Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women in the United States. According to the CDC, over 135,000 people were diagnosed with this cancer in 2011 (most recent data available). Over 51,000 people in the U.S. died from the disease in 2011, with slightly more men than women.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Contracting Colorectal Cancer:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get up, move, walk, garden, exercise, etc.
- Eat fruits and vegetables—min. 2 1/2 cups per day
- Eat whole grains over refined grains and avoid genetically modified organisms.
- Limit red meat consumption to grass fed only.
- If you drink alcohol, do so sparingly (one drink per day for women; two drinks for men).
- Don’t use tobacco of any kind.
- At age 50, have a colonoscopy at least once every ten years or as prescribed by your physician.
The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) test is a preliminary cancer screening test to detect blood in the stool. If the test is positive for blood in the stool, we recommend that our patients follow up with a colonoscopy. The FIT test is performed in the privacy of your own home and sent by mail to the laboratory.
False positives and false negative can occur, as no test is 100% accurate, so if symptoms continue the FIT test should be repeated. Please advise one of our doctors if you are interested in this test.
A colonoscopy is an endoscopic examination of your large bowl and the distal part of your small bowel. If you’ve never had one, it’s perfectly normal to experience some trepidation.
Prior to the colonoscopy, the colon must be free of solid matter. For one to three days prior to the examination, your doctor may ask you to follow a low-fiber or clear liquid diet. The day before, you’ll be given a laxative preparation and a large quantity of fluid to completely evacuate the bowel. Most people indicate this is the worst part of having a colonoscopy. A colonic can aid the process of thoroughly cleaning your intestines, which can result in a better colonoscopy exam.
On the day of the examination, you’ll be asked to get into a hospital gown. A nurse will take your vital signs and medical/health history. An I.V. will be started and in most cases, you’ll be given a sedative.
A camera mounted on a flexible tube is inserted into your anus. This provides your physician with a visual inspection capable of locating any abnormalities (e.g. ulceration, polyps). The endoscope has the ability to biopsy or remove suspected colorectal lesions.
The entire examination usually takes less than an hour. After the procedure, a recovery period of 30-60 minutes is normal to allow the sedative to wear off.
Image source: U.S. Navy