It causes no signs or symptoms in the preliminary stages, but colorectal cancer can be deadly. In fact, according to Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail, “It’s the second leading cause of death from cancer.”
Screening starting at age 50 is vital for prevention and detection of colorectal cancer, so the Ingham County Health Department (ICHD) is participating in Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month by reminding members of the community to get screened. Most health plans cover screenings at no cost as part of the Michigan Colorectal Cancer Early Detection Program at the Ingham County Health Department.
Screenings should take place every 5-10 years. People may also be higher risk if they are African American or smoke. A family history of colorectal cancer may indicate a need to start screenings at a younger age.
“People sometimes delay their colorectal screenings because they are a bit uncomfortable or awkward, but they are so very important,” said Vail.
For those who are adamant that they don’t want a colonoscopy, there are other options available to start with. For instance, the FDA has approved a test that screens for colorectal cancer by checking for DNA markers and by looking for hemoglobin from blood in the stool, via a fecal immunochemical test (FIT). However, if the test screening comes back positive, a colonoscopy is highly recommended. As with any methods of testing, your doctor should be your primary source for information.
Colorectal cancer treatment depends on size, location and how far the cancer has spread. Common treatments include surgery to remove the cancer, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
For more information about the Michigan Colorectal Cancer Early Detection Program, contact the ICHD at (517) 887-4306.