The golden years should be devoted to einiklach, muffins and shiurim, not battling one of society’s most preventable cancers. All it takes is a doctor’s visit once or twice a decade to cut in half the odds of colorectal cancer, the third most common cancer in men and women not counting some kinds of skin cancer.
Screening for colorectal cancer, also called colon cancer, is recommended to begin at age 45 for those without any risk factors, and even younger for those with a family history of colon cancer or abnormal polyps.
What are screening tools?
The best way to take advantage of screening options is by going for a stool-based test every one to three years. The benefits of this are that they are less invasive than colonoscopies. However, if anything abnormal is found it may require further screening with a colonoscopy.
A direct visualization tests via a colonoscopy is recommended every five to ten years, depending on family history, test results or overall health. These tests require some prep at home to clean out the colon. The procedure then uses a camera to visualize the gastrointestinal system from the inside.
Who is at risk?
Anyone with a history of colorectal cancer, defined as having a first-degree relative with the cancer, may need to start screening at age 40, and retake the test every five or ten years, depending on results. If there are two or more first degree relatives with colon cancer, a colonoscopy is recommended every five years starting at age 40, or 10 years before the youngest case in the family was diagnosed, whichever comes first.
If a colonoscopy discovers polyps or adenomas, the doctor may recommend more frequent screenings, depending on the size, number and type of polyps.
Those with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s colitis may need more frequent and earlier screening.
Early detection of colon cancer can be the difference between a treatable and non-treatable cancer. In addition, identifying and removing pre-cancerous polyps can be life-saving and prevent an individual from even developing cancer later on.
It is a medical miracle that a simple screening can slash the odds of getting one of cancer world’s most fearsome creatures. But only if you take advantage of it.