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Understanding colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer usually starts from polyps in the colon or rectum. A polyp is a growth that shouldn’t be there.

Over time, some polyps can turn into cancer. Colorectal cancer occurs most often in people 50 years or older. The chance of getting colorectal cancer increases with age. Both men and women can get colorectal cancer.

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Screening checklist

If you are 50 years of age or older, talk to your Southwest Medical provider about your screening options. 

Questions to ask your provider:

  • Why do I need to have a screening? 
  • What type of screening test do I need? 
  • What will the screening test tell me? 
  • How often will I need to be screened? 

 

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Screening options

Southwest Medical offers two screening options: Colonoscopy and FIT testing. 

  • Colonoscopy is a sedated exam using a flexible lighted tube inserted into your rectum and colon to check for polyps or cancer. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers.

  • FIT, short for fecal immunochemical test, is a stool test you can do at home and then mail to a lab for analysis.
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Colonoscopy benefits

  1. Can remove polyps to prevent cancer.
  2. Can find cancer earlier, when it’s easier to treat and cure.
  3. If the exam is normal and your cancer risk is average, you only need one every 10 years.

Things to think about

  1. You need to use laxatives to clean your bowels and IV sedation during the exam.
  2. You need to take a day off work and have a driver take you home.
  3. Most insurance plans will pay for this test, but if you don’t have insurance it can be expensive.
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FIT benefits

  1. A low-cost, no-risk stool test you can do at home.
  2. Finds 70 – 80% of cancers.
  3. A good choice if you can’t have a colonoscopy.


Things to think about

  1. If your FIT result is not normal you will need a follow-up colonoscopy.
  2. A FIT exam must be done every year to work as well as a colonoscopy.

*Information provided by the Nevada Cancer Coalition
 

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Risk factors

Your chance of having colorectal cancer may be higher than average if:

  1. You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
  2. You have inflammatory bowel disease
  3. You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), Lynch Syndrome, or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer

Talk to your health care professional to learn if you have a higher chance of getting colorectal cancer and should start testing earlier.

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Get the facts

  • Screening should start at age 50 and continue until the age of 75 for most men and women.

  • 28 Million Americans are not up to date on screening.

  • 51,000 Americans die from colorectal cancer each year.

  • 90% reduction in cancer risk following a colonoscopy and polypectomy. 

  • Recommended screenings could prevent at least 60% of these deaths.
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Available resources

For more information about colorectal cancer, please visit: 

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Helpful resources

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