The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screening - Ascension Wisconsin

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Published on March 17, 2014

The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screening

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 140,000 colorectal cancer cases and about 50,000 deaths from colorectal cancer occur each year.

The number of deaths due to colorectal cancer has decreased, which is attributed to increased screening and polyp removal and to improvements in cancer treatment.  

In this brief video, Dr. Marc Kennedy, gastroenterologist with Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group, provides a brief overview of colorectal cancer and the importance of colonoscopy for screening:

Screening Guidelines for Colorectal Cancer

The American Cancer Society recommends the following screening guidelines for early detection of colorectal cancer:

  • Beginning at age 50, both men and women should follow one of the examination schedules below:
    • Fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test every year
    • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
    • Double-contrast barium enema every five years
    • Colonoscopy every 10 years
    • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every five years
  • People with any of the following colorectal cancer risk factors should begin screening procedures at an earlier age and/or be screened more often:
    • Strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps in a first-degree relative, especially in a parent or sibling before the age of 45 or in two first-degree relatives of any age
    • Family with hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer
    • Personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
    • Personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)

It's important to talk with your doctor about a screening plan that's right for you. If you need a doctor, begin your search here.

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The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screening