This month, Doctor Brian Orr talks about colon cancer screening.
March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month
Colon cancer affects 1.2 million people in the USA, making it the second most common cancer.
Approximately 5% of men and women will be diagnosed with colon cancer at some point during their lives.
However, colon cancer is easy to treat when it’s caught early. This is why colon cancer screening is so important. The US Preventative Services Task Force recommends starting screening at age 50 for Americans of average risk.
There are two ways to screen for colon cancer:
- Stool-based tests are convenient, can be submitted from home, require no bowel prep, and must be done every year. These tests are 61 to 91% sensitive for detecting colon cancer.
- Direct visualization can involve either a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years or a full colonoscopy every 10 years. Removal a suspicious mass for analysis can itself be the treatment. These tests are 81 to 96% sensitive for detecting colon cancer masses greater than 6mm in size.
Many doctors recommend a mix of approaches to screen for colon cancer. I generally recommend a yearly stool test that combines cancer protein detection with cancer DNA detection, and a full colonoscopy once every 10 years. -Dr Brian Orr, ND