Colorectal Cancer Awareness and Screening
At Premier Medical Associates, our focus is on preventing illness and keeping our patients out of the hospital. Recently, our team kicked off a specific initiative to reduce colon cancer rates among our more than 100,000 patients. Our goal is to increase the number of patients who are screened from 63 percent to 80 percent by the end of 2014.
Let’s face it; few people consider themselves at risk for cancer. Without a doubt, colon cancer screenings are easy to put off. In fact, fewer than half of all Americans over the age of fifty have been screened for colon cancer.
However, because it takes between five and ten years for some polyps to develop into colon cancer, early detection can mean the difference between life and death.
Fast Facts About This Cancer
- Of cancers affecting both men and women, colorectal cancer—cancer of the colon or rectum—is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. This is also true in Pennsylvania.
- Screening for colorectal cancer can help prevent the disease. Screening helps doctors find abnormal growths (polyps), which can be removed before cancer develops.
- Treatment for colorectal cancer is highly successful (90 percent survival rate) when screening uncovers cancer early.
- National screening rates are only at 63 percent. An increase in screening to 80 percent would result in a 60 percent decrease in cancer deaths.
Screening Saves Lives
With early diagnosis, the five-year survival rate for colon cancer is close to 90 percent. Once a cancer has metastasized, the rate of survival is much lower. Early screening can save your life. Speak to your doctor about when you should begin screening.
You are at a high risk for colon cancer if you or a close relative has had either colon cancer or polyps, or if you have inflammatory bowel disease. High-risk people need to be checked (via colonoscopy) more frequently than most, sometimes even before the age of fifty. Anyone else is considered average risk for colon cancer. If you are between the ages of fifty and seventy-five, you should be screened regularly. There is more than one way to be tested. Speak to your doctor about which screening option is best for you.
At Premier, our providers recommend one of two ways to be screened for this cancer. For patients who are fifty and older or those who are at risk, we recommend either a colonoscopy every ten years or a high-sensitivity stool test (FIT—fecal immunochemical test) once every year.
FIT—Fecal Immunochemical Test (Test Annually)
This is a test wherein a patient uses a small collection brush to remove sample stool from a bowel movement. The FIT is simple to use and can be done discreetly at home.
The sample will be analyzed for the presence of human hemoglobin (Hb). A positive result indicates that there is blood in the stool and bleeding in the lower colon or rectum where colon cancer originates.
For patients who may be unable or unwilling to have a colonoscopy, it is important to know that if this test is done properly every year, it is just as effective in detecting colon cancer.
Colonoscopy (Test Every Ten Years)
A colonoscopy allows the doctor to view the large intestine (rectum and colon) and the lower part of the small intestine to identify abnormalities, inflammation, or bleeding. During the procedure, tissue samples can be taken and abnormal-looking growths may be removed to determine if cancer or precancerous growths are present.
The team at Premier will help patients to understand and prepare for this test. This includes twenty-four hours of preparation, dietary restrictions, and other modifications.
Physicians Performing the Colonoscopy Procedure
Locations Providing this Procedure
Forbes Regional Hospital
Waterfront Surgery Center
UPMC Monroeville Surgery Center