Did You Know March Is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Colon cancer awareness

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancers are one of the most preventable cancers. Early screening is important to finding the cancers early when treatment can work best.

Nearly 150,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the U.S. each year. Approximately 50,000 people die from colon cancer each year. With early detection and treatment many of these would be prevented.

If you are over 50 or have a family history of colorectal cancer, it is important to be screened. Screening saves lives. Screening is important even for individuals who do not necessarily have any signs or symptoms that may indicate cancer. If symptoms exist, then diagnostic workups are done rather than screening.

These are the tests recommended for colorectal cancer screening:


* Stool Blood Test (Fecal Occult Blood Test--FOBT) -- A take home kit is used to test stool samples for small amounts of hidden (occult) blood in the stool. If the test is positive, further tests will be done to pinpoint the exact cause of the bleeding. A newer kind of stool blood test is known as FIT (fecal immunochemical test). It is similar to the FOBT but may be even easier to do and gives fewer false positive results.

* Flexible Sigmoidoscopy (FLEX-SIG) -- A sigmoidoscope is a slender, lighted tube about the thickness of a finger. It allows the physician to look at the lower one third of the colon for cancer or polyps. Before the test, you will need to take an enema or other prep to clean out the lower colon.

* Colonoscopy allows for a complete evaluation of the colon and removal of potentially precancerous polyps. It is the only colorectal cancer screening tool that is both diagnostic and therapeutic. A complete bowel cleansing is required before the exam.

The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy has a new website, Screen-4-colon cancer, to educate patients about colon cancer and what can be done to prevent it. The website has an education video on colonoscopy. The informative video walks patients through what they need to know before, during and after a colonoscopy.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Screen-4-Colon Cancer