National Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Posted on March 11, 2010


March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. This year, approximately 13,000 people under the age of 50 will be diagnosed with colon cancer. Starting at age 50, both men and women who are at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should use one of the screening tests described below.

However, if you experience any stomach discomfort, bleeding in your stool, or sudden weight loss, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Here are some tips about screening for colon cancer from the Susan Cohan Kasdas Colon Cancer Foundation.

There are two types of screenings methods for colon cancer;

  1. tests that can find polyps (abnormal growths) and early cancer
  2. tests that mainly find cancer.

The tests that find early cancer and polyps are preferred if these tests are available to you. You should talk to your doctor about which test is best for you.

The tests that find polyps and cancer are:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy *
  • Colonoscopy
  • Double contrast barium enema *
  • CT colonography/virtual colonoscopy *

*Have one of these tests every 5 years and a colonoscopy every 10 years.

Tests that mainly find cancer are:

  • Fecal occult blood test (every year)
  • Fecal immunochemical test (every year)
  • Stool DNA test (interval uncertain)

If test results are positive they should be followed up with a colonoscopy.