April 24, 2012

Colorectal Cancer Screening – Is More Options Better?

Speaking from a patient viewpoint, yes, I can agree that some people may need more options with colorectal cancer screening. What this study is showing is that among minorities, adherence to colorectal cancer screening is poor or not done because they do not want to go the colonoscopy route.

I consider myself lucky that I went the colonoscopy route 14 years ago. I did not have any family history of colon cancer, but I had lost both parents to cancer and was just doing the colonoscopy on the spur of the moment. How fortunate I was as the oncologist declared that one of the polyps removed was about six months precancerous. I have had several colonoscopies since and except for one time have had polyps removed.

I can understand why many people resist having a colonoscopy as it is not something I enjoy either – it is invasive. However, with my personal history of polyps, I will continue to have them as often as my doctor orders them. I do not want to use the fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) as this means that the cancer already exists when the test is positive.

Not only do you have cancer when the FOBT comes back positive, if not caught early enough, the cancer may metastasize (spread to other parts of the body). I would rather be uncomfortable for a day or two and have the colonoscopy than go through the operation (very invasive) of having part of my colon removed or having chemotherapy and radiation.

For those interested, you may read about colon cancer here. There are several parts to the discussion and you may use the next button at the bottom of the printed material and read all the pages. If you feel better after reading all the material, you should have a better understanding of the different tests and laboratory tests and the pros and cons of each. You may want to consider bookmarking the page and be able to refer back to it later.

If you have a history of colon cancer in your family, please consider the colonoscopy as your prevention of colon cancer. If you have a history in your family, consider age 40 as time to start having colonoscopies. Otherwise, age 50 is the recommended age for checking out your colon.

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