Most colorectal cancers start as abnormal growths, called polyps, on the lining of the intestines. These polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy before they develop into cancer. Early cancers may be detected with non-invasive tests. We recommend that most people begin one of these screening programs at age 50. Depending on your personal and family history, your doctor may recommend that you be screened before age 50.
There is no single “best test” for any person. Each test has advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of each test, and how often to be tested.
There are low-cost, simple, and reliable screening tests available. Most tests are covered by insurance. Which test to use depends on:
Description: A 30-minute out-patient procedure using a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached. Doctor looks at the inner lining of your large intestine (rectum and colon) to check for cancer or precancerous growths, ulcers, polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. Tissue samples may be collected and abnormal growths can be removed.
Preparation: 1 or 2 days
Frequency: Once every 10 years
Description: Similar to a colonoscopy, however, doctor only inspects rectum and lower third of the colon. Tissue samples may be taken.
Preparation: Varies, 1-3 days of preparation
Frequency: Once every 5 years
Description: These two types of fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) detect blood in the stool. Your doctor or nurse practitioner will give you a test kit. At home, you will collect a stool sample and use a stick or brush to obtain a small amount of stool. Return the test kit to your doctor or a lab.
Preparation: No preparation for FIT Kit. Some food or drugs/vitamins should be avoided prior to the High-Sensitivity FOBT.
Frequency: Once a year
Description: Detects whether DNA changes that indicate colon cancer or precancerous polyps are present in the colon. Test also measures blood in the stool. At home, you will collect a stool sample and return it to your provider’s office or mail it to a designated laboratory. Stool DNA testing requires little preparation.
Frequency: Once a year
Talk to your doctor about the test that is right for you. Or call the CMH General Surgery Clinic now at 503-338-4670 to make an appointment.
Media Contact: Felicia Struve
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