Although colon cancer is a preventable type of cancer, it is a leading cause of cancer death in the US because only two out of three people get screened. We understand that people have delayed colon cancer screening and other important screenings as a result of the pandemic, but it’s important to get back on track.
Colon cancer can often be successfully treated when detected early, before it has spread. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that adults age 45 to 75 be screened for colon cancer. Your doctor might even recommend earlier screening if you’re at higher risk. There are several screening tests available, in two main groups:
- Stool-based tests: These tests check the stool (feces) for signs of cancer. These tests are less invasive and easier to have done, but they need to be done more often.
- Visual exams: These tests look at the structure of the colon and rectum for any abnormal areas. This is done either with a scope (a tube-like instrument with a light and tiny video camera on the end) put into the rectum or with special imaging (x-ray) tests. The most well-known of this type of test is a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy can prevent colon cancer before it develops by finding and removing pre-cancerous polyps.
If you’re at average risk, your doctor will likely recommend a colonoscopy every 10 years. People at higher risk for colon cancer should talk with their doctor about a more stringent screening schedule, including regular colonoscopy. Lake Health offers colonoscopies at TriPoint Medical Center, Lake West Medical Center and Mentor Health Center.