March is National Colorectal Cancer Month!
Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
Persistent abdominal discomfor, such as cramps, gas or pain
A feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely
Weakness or fatigue
Unexplained weigh loss
If you notice any symptoms of colon cancer make an appointment with your doctor immediatly!
Colon Cancer can be cured in it's early stages...early detection is the key!
Don't Have Insurance? 50 years or older? Under 50 who are at inceased or high risk of colorectal cancer? Call the Chautauqua County Cancer Services Program. You may be eligible for a free or low cost Colon Test. 1-800-506-9185
The American Cancer Society believes that preventing colorectal cancer (and not just finding it early) should be a major reason for getting tested. Finding and removing polyps keeps some people from getting colorectal cancer. Tests that have the best chance of finding both polyps and cancer are preferred if these tests are available to you and you are willing to have them.
Beginning at age 50, both men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should use one of the screening tests below:
Tests that find polyps and cancer
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years*
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
- Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years*
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years*
Tests that mainly find cancer
- Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year*,**
- Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year*,**
- Stool DNA test (sDNA), interval uncertain*
Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive.
**For FOBT or FIT used as a screening test, the take-home multiple sample method should be used. An FOBT or FIT done during a digital rectal exam in the doctor's office is not adequate for screening.
In a digital rectal examination (DRE), a doctor examines your rectum with a lubricated, gloved finger. Although a DRE is often included as part of a routine physical exam, it is not recommended as a stand-alone test for colorectal cancer. This simple test, which is not usually painful, can detect masses in the anal canal or lower rectum. By itself, however, it is not a good test for detecting colorectal cancer because its reach is limited.
Doctors often find a small amount of stool in the rectum when doing a DRE. However, simply checking stool obtained in this fashion for bleeding with an FOBT or FIT is not an acceptable method of screening for colorectal cancer. Research has shown that this type of stool exam will miss more than 90% of colon abnormalities, including most cancers.
People at increased or high risk
If you are at an increased or high risk of colorectal cancer, you should begin colorectal cancer screening before age 50 and/or be screened more often. The following conditions make your risk higher than average:
- A personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease)
- A strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps (see "Risk factors for colorectal cancer")
- A known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)
1The Bethesda criteria can be found in the "Can colorectal cancer be prevented?" section of our larger Colorectal Cancer document.
Last Medical Review: 03/02/2011
Last Revised: 01/26/2012