Colorectal Cancer: Risks and Screening Methods
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. However, with regular screenings, it can be highly preventable and treatable.
Why is it important for your members to be screened?
Colorectal cancer often develops slowly over several years, and in many cases, there are no symptoms in the early stages. By the time symptoms appear, the cancer may have already spread to other parts of the body, making it more difficult to treat. That’s why screening is so important – it can help detect cancer early, when it’s most treatable, or even prevent it from developing in the first place.
What are your members’ screening options?
There are several different screening options available for colorectal cancer, and the American Cancer Society recommends that adults at average risk of developing the disease begin screening at age 45. Here are some of the most common screening options:
1. Colonoscopy is considered the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening. During a colonoscopy, a doctor uses a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end to examine the entire colon and rectum. If any abnormal tissue is found, the doctor can remove it during the procedure. Colonoscopy is typically done every 10 years, although the timing may vary based on individual risk factors.
Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)
2. FIT, a self-collection kit which can be provided under your brand by ixlayer, is a non-invasive screening option that involves collecting a small stool sample at home and sending it to a lab for analysis. The test looks for blood in the stool, which can be a sign of colorectal cancer. If blood is detected, further testing will be needed. FIT is typically done annually.
Stool DNA Test
3. Stool DNA tests are similar to FIT, but they also look for changes in DNA that are associated with colorectal cancer. Like FIT, stool DNA tests are non-invasive and can be done at home. If abnormal results are found, further testing will be needed. Stool DNA tests are typically done every three years.
4. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy, but it only examines the lower part of the colon. During the procedure, a doctor uses a flexible tube with a camera on the end to examine the rectum and the lower part of the colon. If any abnormal tissue is found, the doctor can remove it during the procedure. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is typically done every five years.
5. CT colonography, also known as virtual colonoscopy, is a non-invasive imaging test that uses a CT scanner to create detailed images of the colon and rectum. If any abnormalities are found, a colonoscopy may be needed for further testing. CT colonography is typically done every five years.
Which screening option is right for your members?
The choice of screening method will depend on individual risk factors and medical history. For example, people with a family history of colorectal cancer may need to begin screening at a younger age or undergo more frequent screenings. Similarly, people with certain medical conditions may not be able to undergo certain screening tests. It’s important for your members to discuss screening options with a healthcare provider to determine which option is right for you.
What can your members do to reduce their risk of colorectal cancer?
While screening is an important tool for detecting and preventing colorectal cancer, there are also steps members can take to reduce overall risk of developing the disease:
1. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet is one of the best things to do to reduce risk of colon cancer. A diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in red and processed meats has been linked to a lower risk of colon cancer. Members should aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day and limit intake of red and processed meats.
2. Exercise regularly
Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Members should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, on most days of the week.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. Members should try to maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.
4. Don’t smoke
Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer, as well as numerous other health problems. If your members smoke, quitting is one of the best things they can do for their health.
5. Limit alcohol intake
Heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. If your members choose to drink alcohol, they should do so in moderation. The American Cancer Society recommends that women limit their alcohol intake to one drink per day, and men limit their intake to two drinks per day.
6. Get screened
Regular screening is one of the most important things your members can do to detect colon cancer early. Members should know their risk factors and screen accordingly.
7. Know family history
If you members have a family history of colon cancer or other types of cancer, you may be at increased risk. Some members may need to begin screening at an earlier age or undergo more frequent screenings based upon their family history.
By making these lifestyle changes and getting regular screenings, you can help reduce your members’ risk of developing colon cancer. Interested in learning about how ixlayer can help your organization provide branded FIT sample collection kits to screen for colorectal cancer? Reach out to a member of our team.