Colon cancer screen­ings save lives

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS -

ev­ery 10 years.

2. FIT: This im­muno­log­i­cal test, done yearly on a stool sam­ple, checks for blood in the stool, a pos­si­ble sign of cancer. It usu­ally fails to pick up polyps and thus would not pre­vent cancer, but it is more ef­fec­tive than the old fe­cal oc­cult blood test.

3. FIT-fe­cal DNA: This test, sold as Co­lo­guard and usu­ally done ev­ery three years, com­bines FIT with mark­ers for ab­nor­mal DNA in the stool, mak­ing it bet­ter able to de­tect a cancer and ad­vanced pre­can­cer­ous polyps. It misses about half of pre­can­cer­ous polyps.

4. Vir­tual colonoscopy: This is an imag­ing study done ev­ery five years via a CT scan that, like an or­di­nary colonoscopy, re­quires a thor­ough bowel cleans­ing. It vi­su­al­izes the en­tire colon, but if any­thing ab­nor­mal is de­tected, a sec­ond prep is needed to per­mit a reg­u­lar colonoscopy.

5. Septin 9 as­say: This is a serum test done via a blood sam­ple that, al­though more con­ve­nient and less “yucky” than stool tests, is only half as ef­fec­tive as the FIT test in de­tect­ing cancer and not at all ef­fec­tive in pick­ing up pre­can­cer­ous le­sions.

As im­por­tant as get­ting screened for col­orec­tal cancer is the need to avoid risk fac­tors for the dis­ease that in­di­vid­u­als can con­trol. These in­clude be­ing over­weight or phys­i­cally in­ac­tive, smok­ing, con­sum­ing al­co­hol im­mod­er­ately, and eat­ing lots of red meat and pro­cessed meat.

Risk fac­tors that are un­avoid­able in­clude get­ting older; hav­ing an in­flam­ma­tory bowel dis­ease (ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis or Crohn’s dis­ease), or hav­ing close rel­a­tives (such as par­ents or sib­lings) who had col­orec­tal cancer or ade­no­ma­tous polyps or an in­her­ited cancer syn­drome like Lynch syn­drome or fa­mil­ial poly­po­sis. Doc­tors may ad­vise peo­ple with these risk fac­tors to get screened for col­orec­tal cancer as of­ten as ev­ery year or two.

New York Times

With col­orec­tal cancer be­ing found in an in­creas­ing num­ber of younger adults, the pres­sure is on to screen mil­lions more.

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