Colorectal Cancer FAQ

Colorectal Cancer FAQ

Updated: Mar 20, 2018

Did you know that the second leading cancer killer in America is colorectal cancer? What if we told you that it doesn’t have to be? [1]  The accuracy of screening tools has come so far, and we are now much better equipped to detect abnormalities in the colon or rectum. This allows us to catch cancers at an early enough stage to better treat or potentially even prevent them! The CDC recommends anyone 50 years old or older to get screened as soon as possible. If that’s you, please give us a call at 608-233-9746 to get the process started.


Screening


Screening looks for abnormalities, called polyps, in your colon and rectum. Polyps are a small collection of cells that don’t belong in your body and can lead to cancer. Screening is a vital tool in early detection of these polyps. Often, screening allows these growths to be removed before they turn into cancer. It can also find colorectal cancer early when treatment has the highest success rate.

Kinds of Screenings [2]


Guaiac-based Fecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT)


This test uses the chemical guaiac to detect blood in stool. At home you use a stick or brush to obtain a small amount of stool. You return the test to the doctor or a lab, where stool samples are checked for blood. It's done once a year.

Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)


This test uses antibodies to detect blood in the stool. You receive a test kit from your health care provider. This test is done the same way as gFOBT. It's done once a year.

FIT-DNA Test (or Stool DNA test)


This test combines the FIT with a test to detect altered DNA in stool. You collect an entire bowel movement and send it to a lab to be checked for cancer cells. It's done once every one or three years.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

For this test, the doctor puts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum. The doctor checks for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and lower third of the colon. Every five years, or every 10 years with a FIT every year.

Colonoscopy

Similar to flexible sigmoidoscopy, except the doctor uses a longer, thin, flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers. Colonoscopy also is used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during one of the other screening tests. Every 10 years.

CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy)

Computed tomography (CT) colonography, also called a virtual colonoscopy, uses X-rays and computers to produce images of the entire colon. The images are displayed on a computer screen for the doctor to analyze. Every five years.


Like the flu vaccine, there is no single best option for everyone. Talk to your doctor about what screening test is right for you. Your doctor will also determine how often you need screening. Some major factors that your doctor considers when determining this are your age, genetics, family history, and current health issues.


Risk Factors

  • A close family history of the disease.

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s Disease, or Ulcerative Colitis.

  • Familial Adenomatous Polyposis or Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer.

Symptoms


In the early stages, there may not be any symptoms. That’s why screening is incredibly important!

Some individuals who have symptoms have experienced:

  • Blood in or on the stool.

  • Persistent stomach pain, aches or cramps.

  • Unexplained weight loss.

  • Decreased appetite.

What you can do to help

  • Donate! You can donate to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance HERE.

  • Fundraise! You can create your own fundraiser or organize a fundraiser at your workplace HERE.

  • Host a Dress in Blue Day and compete in the March Photo Contest HERE

As always, we are here for YOU. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call with any and all of your health concerns.


[1] https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/index.htm

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/pdf/basic_fs_eng_color.pdf

© 2023 by Associated Physicians, LLP

4410 Regent St. Madison, WI 53705

608-233-9746

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