The Best Colorectal Cancer Screening? The One You Get Done

Graphic which reads; "90% of colorectal cancer cases are beatable if detected early with proper screening".

Posted March 12, 2021

Colorectal cancer – cancer of the colon or rectum – is the second-most-common cancer affecting both men and women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. It is also the second leading cause of cancer deaths in both Vermont and New York. The good news? Colorectal cancer is largely preventable.

Unlike many cancers, colorectal cancer can be caught early and even prevented with one simple step – screening. Despite this fact, more than a third of patients eligible for screening never have been.

Your Screening Options

Screening takes one of two forms - a colonoscopy or the examination of a stool sample.

Colonoscopy

The gold standard for screening, a colonoscopy provides detailed results about overall colorectal health, and offers the opportunity to treat polyps (some of which may be cancer-forming) at the time of the procedure. Depending on results, a follow-up colonoscopy may be recommended at intervals of three to 10 years.

At-Home Testing Kits

Take-home kits, like the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), are less invasive and highly accurate. FIT examines stool for signs of microscopic blood, one possible symptom of colorectal cancer. A positive test should be followed up by a colonoscopy.

Your health care provider may recommend either of these options if you're in good health and fall into the average risk population:

  • You’re between the ages of 50 and 75
  • You have no family or personal history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, polyps, abdominal pain or blood in your stool
  • You have not experienced changes in the frequency, amount or consistency of bowel movements

Check with your insurer; many cover colorectal screenings.

Preview image of a PDF entitled, "What can you do to help prevent colorectal cancer?". Some of the suggestions include: know your family history and stay at a healthy weight.

Staying Healthy Between Screenings

No matter your age, you can promote colorectal health by:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating fewer red/processed meats
  • Eating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol intake

Early detection promotes successful treatment. If you're over age 50, talk with your health care provider today about which screening option is best for you. Remember, the best test is the one you get done.

Learn More Ways to Stay Healthy and Cope with COVID-19

Action shot from bike rider's perspective looking over the handle bars. The mountain biker is riding on a dirt trail in the woods behind another mountain biker.

Posted June 1, 2021

6 Tips for Safer Mountain Biking

Sarah Moore holding her newborn

Posted May 6, 2021

Expecting Answers
 

Illustration of a person pole jumping over a canyon gap.

Posted April 30, 2021

10 Tips to Becoming More Resilient

Parent on a telehealth call with a provider. The parent is holding the ipad and the sitting next to their daughter who has a thermometer in her mouth.

Posted April 21, 2021

House Calls