Friday, March 1, 2013

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

We know that colorectal cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented as well as detected early with screening. Colon cancer starts as a polyp, or small collection of abnormal cells. Colon polyps become more common as we age. The recommendation for screening at age 50 is based upon this science. Don’t delay your screening appointment if you are turning 50 – and consult your doctor about screening if you are younger than 50 but have a family history of colon cancer or precancerous polyps.

Colon cancer is most treatable when found in the earliest stages. Often, people have few symptoms until polyps have progressed to cancer.
Screening saves lives, so get screened and encourage others to be screened as well.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society recommend three types of tests as options for people without a family history of colon cancer:
  • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing or fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) every year: This can be obtained from your doctor’s office and can be done in the privacy of your home.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years combined with a high-sensitivity stool test or FIT every 3 years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
For more information about colon cancer prevention visit the Maine CDC Colorectal Cancer Control Program.

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