Early CRC often has no symptoms, which is why screening is so important. Annually, there are nearly 100,000 new cases of colon cancer and over 40,000 cases of rectal cancer diagnosed in the United States. The incidence of colon cancer is fairly equal in men and women. Approximately 4.6 percent of men (1 in 22) and 4.2 percent of women (1 in 24) will be diagnosed with CRC in their lifetime. All total, about 50,000 American men and women die each year from CRC.
The slow course of growth from precancerous polyp to invasive cancer provides a unique opportunity for the prevention and early detection of CRC. Screening can prevent cancer through the detection and removal of precancerous growths and can detect cancer at an early stage, when treatment is usually more successful. As a result, screening reduces CRC mortality both by decreasing incidence of disease and by increasing the likelihood of survival. Screening is recommended beginning at age 50 for people at average risk of CRC, but earlier for most people at increased risk because of family history or certain medical conditions.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force of the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults age 50 to 75 be screened for CRC. There are several options -- Colonoscopy, Colonography, Cologuard, and Flexible Sigmoidoscopy. There is no single "best test" for any person. Each test has advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of each test, and how often to be tested. Which test to use depends on: your preferences; your medical condition; the likelihood that you will get the test; and, the resources available for testing and follow-up.
I'm 54 years old and after turning 50 I had my first CRC screening. Thankfully, no polyps were found. If you are age 50 or older, see a doctor about CRC screening.
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