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CDC: Get Off Your Butt and Get Tested for Colon Cancer!

Talking About Colon Cancer TestsIt is an appointment that people put off for a long time. It fills people with more dread than even a trip to the dentist. A colonoscopy is by no means an enjoyable procedure, but it is an essential one nonetheless.

The CDC is hoping to draw attention to the fact that far too many people are skipping their recommended colon cancer screenings. In a recently released weekly report, the CDC estimated around 23 million Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 have never been screened for colon cancer.[1]  This amounts to 28 percent of the total number of people who are due for screening. This is despite evidence that screenings can save lives.

What you may not realize is that there are a number of different tests that screen for colon cancer besides the colonoscopy. Although none of them are particularly pleasant, the range of options at least provides you a certain degree of freedom to choose whichever procedure works best for you.

Colon cancer is the second-largest killer among cancers in both men and women. It also ranks as the leading killer of nonsmokers in the US, responsible for 50,000 deaths annually. [2]

While the public-at-large is not free from blame for the low rate of colon cancer screenings, the CDC report points the finger to physicians, claiming the number one reason why people do not get screened is because their doctors had not recommended it.  Patients are wise to take matters into their own hands and ask their doctors about colon cancer screening and their testing options.

The American Cancer Society provides recommendations on how often one should be tested for colon cancer. Tests that can find both polyps and cancer, such as a flexible sigmoidoscopy, double-contrast barium enema, or a virtual colonoscopy, should be performed every five years. A colonoscopy should be performed every 10 years. It is recommended that tests to find cancer be performed every year. These include take home fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) and fecal immunochemical tests (FIT).[3]

By remaining diligent about taking the proper steps to screen for colon cancer, you can better protect yourself from the devastating effects of this all-too-common disease.

[1] Reinberg, Steven. “1 in 3 Not Meeting Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines: CDC.”HealthDay News. HealthDay, 05 Nov. 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.

[2] Reinberg.

[3] “American Cancer Society Recommendations for Colorectal Cancer Early Detection.” American Cancer Society, 05 Aug. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.

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