Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a type of cancer that can affect the colon and the rectum, which together make up your large intestine, also known as the large bowel. Both are a part of your digestive system. Power to the poop!
Protecting your Most Valuable ASSet: Prevention & Screening Information
Screening is an extremely important preventive method to catch cancer early before it advances to an incurable stage.
CRC screening is useful among individuals who do not show symptoms. It can help detect polyps in the colon and rectum, which can develop into cancer if left untouched.
- The American Cancer Society recommends screening should begin at 45 years for average-risk adults.
- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force also recommends that adults at average risk should begin screening at 45 years.
- You may need to screen earlier if you are at a higher risk of developing CRC
Risky Business: Understanding Your Chances of Developing CRC
Risk Factors You Can Control
Many lifestyle and environmental factors have been linked to an increased risk of developing CRC:
- Being overweight or obese
- Not being physically active
- Diet high in red and processed meats
- Eating meats cooked at very high temperatures
- Low blood levels of Vitamin D
- Alcohol consumption
Risk Factors You Cannot Control
- Aging: those over 50 are more susceptible, although CRC is increasing in young adults
- Personal and/or family history of adenomatous polyps (adenomas) or CRC
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Inherited syndrome like Lynch Syndrome, FAP, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome or MUTYH-associated polyposis (MAP).
- African American or Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
Let’s Get Physical: Screening Tests and How to Prepare for It
Two categories of screening options are available: stool-based testing and visual exam.
Speak to your doctor to find out which test is right for you.
These tests require the patient to collect and mail-in a stool sample using an at-home kit. Currently, there are three types of stool tests approved by the FDA:
- Guaiac Fecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT)
- Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)
- Multi-targeted Stool DNA Test (FIT-DNA)
Is your butt ready for its closeup?
A visual exam allows your doctor to look inside your colon and rectum for any abnormal growth—either a polyp (non-cancerous) or a tumor—using a guided camera or a scanner. These tests need some extra preparation than stool-based tests:
- Sigmoidal colonoscopy
- CT colonoscopy