Detecting Colorectal Cancer May Be All About Timing

Good timing is crucial in a lot of life events, and your GI health isn’t to be excluded. A recent study in the fight against colorectal cancer is showing once again, being proactive in your health care is crucial in saving your life. With colorectal cancer being the second deadliest form of cancer, it’s important that both men and women understand their options and work with their health care providers to get the proper screening at the right time.

How Is Colorectal Cancer Detected?

Most cases of colorectal cancer are seen in patients over age 50, if those patients fall into a low risk category. High-risk populations or those with a family history may differ, which is why proactive health care is even more crucial if you fall into those categories. Doctors recommend a combination of diagnostic tests in the fight against colon cancer – colonoscopies and Fecal Immunochemical Tests (FIT). Colonoscopies should be conducted once every 10 years after age 50, granted that the test comes back clean. FITs should be conducted annually.

Colonoscopies, the more well known of the two, are a simple diagnostic screening done at your doctor’s office. Doctors use a small, flexible tube to look into your colon and rectum, checking for the presence of polyps, which might indicate colorectal cancer. If found, the doctors can remove the polyps, send them off for testing and determine if there is cancer present and how to treat it.

The other test, FIT, while perhaps not as well known, one type is frequently advertised on television, which is where many patients may have heard of them. They’re simple at home tests that detect blood in the stool, which is often indicative of colorectal cancer. The stool is evaluated in a lab and reported back to your doctor. Another, in office type, is done during your routine annual wellness examination by your primary care physician.

What Does Timing Have To Do With It?

The two tests are best when used together under direction of your health care provider, with proper timing being the key to getting good results. A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association followed more than 70,000 patients between the ages 59-70 after having received a positive FIT test. 74% of study participants followed doctors advice and got a follow up colonoscopy within 3 months. The other patients waited a little longer before getting follow up tests. Patients who waited 10 months were found to have double the risk of colon cancer, with the risk of advanced malignancy nearly doubled as well. The participants who waited over a year had their risk tripled.

At Vanguard Gastroenterology we make it our goal to stay up to date with the latest health care diagnostics and make sure we work in our patients’ favor. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to determine your potential risks for having colorectal cancer and what form of testing will work for you.