Regular Screening for Colorectal Cancer Helps Prevent the Spread of the Deadly Disease   

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 the colon.

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.

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