Regular Screening for Colorectal Cancer Helps Prevent the Spread of the Deadly Disease
Cancer of the colon and the rectum, called
colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer
afflicting Americans according to the American
Cancer Society. However, one test- the invasive,
screening colonoscopy can help early detection,
prevent the spread of the disease and save lives.
National Colorectal Cancer Awareness is observed
during the month of March, to make people aware of
the importance of screenings; once in every 10 years
for people above age 50 and more often and at a
younger age for those who have a family history of
the disease or for those who have had polyps or
inflammatory bowel diseases.
The American Cancer Society estimates 101,700 new
cases of colon cancer, 39,510 new cases of rectal
cancer and 49,380 deaths from colorectal cancer for
the current year, 2011. However, what is heartening
is that there has been a steady drop in the death
rates of colorectal cancer for the past 20 years,
and this has been attributed to the timely detection
and removal of polyps and finding the disease in the
early stages when the cure is much easier.
Doctors believe cancer evolves from the polyps in
the colon, and once the symptoms of colon cancer,
such as abdominal pain and cramps, passage of blood,
anemia, fatigue, weight loss, and constipation begin
to show up, the disease would have progressed
considerably, beyond any cure. This makes regular
screenings vital in preventing colorectal cancers.
Other screening methods available include fecal
occult blood testing, a chemical test to find blood
in the stools, and flexible sigmoidoscopy, which is
a visual examination of the rectum and lower part of
Some non-invasive procedures are on the anvil, such
as, small bowel cinematography, where a person
swallows a small capsule with a light and camera.
Once inside, it takes images of a person’s colon
every few seconds. The second procedure is virtual
colonoscopy, in which a 3-D scanner takes distinct
images of a person’s abdomen and produces a 3-D
virtual image of the bowels.