National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
What Everyone Should Know About Colorectal Cancer
What is Colorectal Cancer and How Serious Is It?
Colorectal Cancer is cancer that forms in the colon and/or rectum. It usually begins as a small polyp. While most colon polyps are benign, some do become cancerous. Colon cancer symptoms may include a change in bowel habits or bleeding, but usually this disease strikes without symptoms. Thatís why itís important to get timely colorectal cancer screening. If the cancer is found early, surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy all can be effective forms of treatment. In fact, when patients with an abnormal Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) result undergo a complete diagnostic evaluation via a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, this boosts the survival rate to nearly 90 percent.
To help lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer:
- Get Screened!
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Be physically active.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Eat a diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and less red or processed meats.
Finding colon cancer early is the key to beating it. Thatís why doctors recommend completing at least one of the following screening tests if you are between the ages of 50-75:
High-Sensitivity FOBT (Stool Test)
You receive a test kit from your doctor. At home, you use a stick or brush to obtain a small amount of stool. You return the test kit to the doctor or a lab, where the stool samples are checked for the presence of blood.
How often: Once a year.
For this test, the doctor puts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into the rectum. The doctor checks for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and lower third of the colon.
How often: Every 5 years.
This is similar to flexible sigmoidoscopy, except the doctor uses a longer, thin, flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers.
How often: Every 10 years
HAP is conducting several prize drawings throughout the year for members who receive a colorectal cancer screening test in 2011. Look for information in the mail by April 30, 2011.
Remember: Prevention, early detection and treatment are your best protection against colorectal cancer. So if you have not had a screening this year, please contact your health care provider and schedule one today!