13. Do you need to be screened for colorectal cancer?

If you are 50 or older, you need to be screened for colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the United States.  People who have polyps or colorectal cancer sometimes don’t have symptoms, especially at first.  The good news is screening tests can lead to early detection of pre-cancerous growths, or polyps, before they become cancerous.  Early detection is the key!  Cases where colorectal cancers are detected in the early stages not only respond best to treatment, but survival rates are much higher as well.

There are several methods for colorectal cancer screening.  These include:

  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) – This test checks stool (solid waste) for blood that cannot be seen with the eye.  Small samples of stool are placed on special cards and returned to your doctor or laboratory for testing.
  • Barium enema (or Double Contrast Barium Enema) – This procedure involves a series of x-rays of the lower gastrointestinal tract.  A liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound) is put into the rectum.  The barium coats the lower gastrointestinal tract and x-rays are taken.  This procedure is also called a lower GI series.
  • Sigmoidoscopy – This procedure uses a sigmoidoscope (thin, lighted tube) to look at the inside of the rectum and lower (sigmoid) colon for polyps (small non-cancerous growths), abnormal areas or cancer.  Polyps or tissue samples may be taken for biopsy.
  • Colonoscopy – This procedure is similar to the sigmoidoscopy, except it allows your doctor to look at the entire colon.  Polyps or tissue samples may be taken for biopsy during this procedure as well.

For additional information:

  • Discuss with your physician.
  • Contact Affinity NurseDirect at 1-800-362-9900 toll-free, (920) 738-2230 in the Fox Cities, or (920) 231-6578 in Oshkosh.

From your Internet connection:

then click on Health Resources
then click on Affinity's 22 Tips for Better Health

Or access the following links: 



Adapted from:  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Reviewed:  1/07
Reviewer:  rfc

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