Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women. It used to be considered a “men’s” cancer, but with women’s increased stressful lifestyles and competition in the work force, this cancer is about even in men and women.
The symptoms….are mostly silent. When my father was diagnosed, his only symptom was fatigue. How many of us experience this subtle and common complaint?
Many of my patients have been diagnosed with pre-cancerous polyps after a colonoscopy. They never imagined they would have an abnormality since they do not have a family history of colon cancer or any symptoms. Colorectal cancer is a silent disease.
Screening is so important to find early signs of cancer. Colonoscopy is the best screening test available. Virtual Colonoscopy is also available which is a CT scan of the colon. The preparation is the same (cleaning the colon out with medications to induce diarrhea) but a virtual procedure is not invasive. The only problem is that if any thing looks suspicious…then you just signed up for a regular colonoscopy. I have also seen these virtual colonoscopies pick up other unrelated findings, such as a nodule on the adrenal gland, which may be normal but then needs further follow-up.
Either test is a good screening for this common cancer.
Two recently released studies confirm an alarming reality, that a majority of Americans who should be getting screened for colorectal cancer are not. Men and women over the age of 50 should be screened for colorectal cancer, but according to a study in the journal Cancer, researchers found that among an assessment of Medicare beneficiaries between 1998 and 2004, only 25. [click link for full article]…