March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

In this blog post, we will talk about a few other types of DNA testing for colorectal cancer screening, but we want you to know that experts agree that a colonoscopy is the gold standard in testing for this type of cancer. If you are 50 or older, then you should be scheduling a colonoscopy. For various reasons, an estimated 20 million American won’t get a colonoscopy. Most of the time people state that they simply dislike the preparation for a colonoscopy and are afraid of the procedure itself. Since colon cancer is the third most common cancer and the second most common cause of death in the U.S., a case may be made that any screening is better than no screening, so we want to give you some alternatives if you are refusing to get your colonoscopy.

  1. CT Colonography—Essentially a CAT scan of the colon, this procedure still requires the same kind of bowl preparation that a colonoscopy requires. Essentially what happens during this test is a radiologist fills the colon with air by inserting a tube into the rectum and then he takes a CT scan of the colon. It is typically only covered by insurance if your colonoscopy fails. The good thing about this procedure is that sedation is not required and it’s very good at finding large polyps and colon cancer. However, if pre-cancerous polyps are found, then you must undergo a colonoscopy to remove them, and the consensus is that it’s not as effective as a colonoscopy at finding smaller pre-cancerous polyps.
  2. Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)—This third stool-based test better than the fecal occult blood test, but not as good as a colonoscopy. Again, you will collect a stool sample and mail it into the lab. The FIT test picks up polyps and cancer about 70% to 90% of the time.

The biggest advantage of all of the stool-based tests is that you don’t have to do the bowl-prep and endure diarrhea beforehand, the way you do with a colonoscopy. They are also cheaper, noninvasive, and you don’t need to be sedated. You can do the tests from the comfort of your own home. However, they are less effective than a colonoscopy, detecting pre-cancerous polyps less than 50% of the time, and if they do detect one, then you need to have a colonoscopy to remove the polyps. You will also need to do them much more frequently than the every-10-years recommendation for a colonoscopy.

The above mentioned tests are excellent for detecting Cancer; however, if you really want to take preventative measures, getting a colonoscopy is the best way to go. Colonoscopies lower the risk of dying from colon cancer by 50% to 70%.The most important argument for the colonoscopy is the fact that it not only detects cancer (and it does this 95% of the time), it prevents it, by removing the potentially cancerous polyps before they become cancerous. So while none of the alternative screenings are as good as a colonoscopy, they are definitely better than doing nothing, and still lower your chances of dying from a disease that is very preventable.

To find out more about colorectal cancer screening give us a call today! PremierMD Care 239-319-4919. #conciergedoctor #primarycaredoctor

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