More than 50,000 Americans will die from colorectal cancer each year, even though it often can be prevented. If colon cancer is found at the earliest stages, the 5-year survival rate is 90%. Survival is less than 10% for disease that has spread by the time of diagnosis. How can Colon and Rectal Cancer be prevented? Have a doctor check your colon! If there’s a polyp, it can be removed before it turns into cancer.
Colonoscopy is the test of choice, but it is an invasive test, and involves an extensive prep. Fecal Immunochemical Testing (stool testing for blood) and Fecal DNA (detects cancerous genetic changes in stool specimen) could serve as a starting point. Any test that is abnormal, will need to be followed by a colonoscopy!
Colon cancer screening should start at age 45 or sooner if you have any of the following colorectal cancer risk factors: a personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous (precancerous) polyps, a first degree relative younger than 60 with colorectal cancer, and a personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease.
A person of any age with unexplained blood loss, blood in the stool or unexplained anemia (low blood hemoglobin), should undergo further evaluation of his/her Colon and possibly upper GI tract (esophagus and stomach).