Colorectal Cancer Screening
Cape Cod Healthcare recognizes March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and urges everyone to pay attention to screening guidelines: beginning at age 50 for men and women who have no history of colorectal cancer in their family, and at age 40 for those who do. Colorectal cancer is a silent disease and, when caught early through screening, it can be easily treated.
The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screening
Cancer of the colon and rectum accounts for the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in males and the fourth most frequent cancer in females in the U.S. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women. In countries where the people have adopted western diets, the incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing.
Colon Cancer At A Glance
• Colorectal cancer is a malignant tumor arising from the inner wall of the large intestine.
• Risk factors for colorectal cancer include heredity, colon polyps, and long standing ulcerative colitis.
• Most colorectal cancers develop from polyps. Removal of colon polyps can prevent colorectal cancer.
• Colon polyps and early cancer can have no symptoms. Therefore regular screening is important.
• Diagnosis of colorectal cancer can be made by barium enema or by colonoscopy with biopsy confirmation of cancer tissue.
• Treatment of colorectal cancer depends on the location, size, and extent of cancer spread, as well as the age and health of the patient.
• Surgery is the most common treatment for colorectal cancer.
Cancer of the colon and rectum (colorectal cancer) is a malignant tumor arising from the inner wall of the large intestine. These malignant tumors invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body. Benign tumors of the colon are called polyps. Benign polyps do not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body like malignant tumors do. Benign polyps can be removed easily during colonoscopy and are not life threatening. However, if benign polyps are not removed from the large intestine, they can become malignant (cancerous) over time. In fact, most of the cancers of the large intestine are believed to have evolved from benign polyps that are pre-cancerous.
Colorectal cancer is preventable and curable. It is prevented by removing precancerous colon polyps. It is cured if it is found early and is surgically removed before it spreads. The National Polyp Study showed in its surveillance program that individuals who had their polyps removed experienced a 90% reduction in the incidence of colorectal cancer. The few patients in the study who did develop colorectal cancer had their cancer discovered at early, surgically or endoscopically curable stages. Since most colon polyps and early cancers are silent (produce no symptoms), it is important to do screening and surveillance for colon cancer in patients without symptoms or signs of the polyps or cancers.
Colorectal Cancer Screening Basic Fact Sheet, View PDF (2.5M)
How Can I Pay for Screening Tests?
• Many insurance plans and Medicare help pay for colorectal cancer screening. Check with your plan to find out which tests are covered for you. To find out about Medicare coverage, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
• CDC's Colorectal Cancer Control Program provides access to colorectal cancer screening to low-income men and women who are 50–64 years old and are underinsured or uninsured in 25 states and four tribes.