Eliminating Barriers To Colon Cancer Screening

There is good news for those concerned about colon cancer. Physicians know that colon cancer screening saves lives. Yet an estimated 148,000 Americans, both women and men, are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year, and every year approximately 55,000 will die-the nation’s second deadliest cancer. Yet, it’s believed most of these deaths could be prevented through proper screening.

However, experts from the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) warn that too few Americans are getting screened. Colorectal screening rates remain very low, even though Medicare and many private plans pay for screening tests.

Despite increasing public awareness of colon cancer screening tests through the efforts of Katie Couric and others, many people continue to face obstacles to screening. Even Medicare beneficiaries, for whom incidence and death from the disease are highest, encounter problems with access to screening colonoscopy.

Congress Can Help

“Pending legislation in the U.S. Congress, such as the Colon Cancer Screen for Life Act (S.1010/ H.R. 1632), promises to remove Medicare’s barriers to screening,” says ACG President Dr. Jack A. DiPalma of Mobile, Alabama. “But only one small improvement, the waiver of the Medicare deductible, was approved for 2006, so much remains to be done.”

Research indicates that colon cancer arises from precancerous growths or polyps that grow in the colon. When detected early, these growths or polyps can be removed, actually preventing the development of colon cancer.

“With improved use of colon cancer screening, we can save lives,” adds Dr. DiPalma.

The College currently recommends colonoscopy every 10 years beginning at age 50 for average-risk individuals as the preferred screening strategy to prevent colon cancer.

For patients with higher risk factors such as a family history of colon cancer or a previous personal history of polyps, and for African Americans, ACG recommends earlier and/or more frequent screening with colonoscopy.

Testing For Inherited Colon Cancer

Inherited colon cancer is an issue that both men and women need to be concerned about. Since this type of cancer is part of the DNA coding there is nothing you can do prevent the fact that you may have it. However, you can get tested for inherited colon cancer and therefore your doctor can help you prevent it from affecting your lifestyle.

Even though inherited colon cancer is still a major ailment in or society, the number of deaths from it continue to drop due to various types of testing that have been implemented over the past 15 years. Early screenings at annual check ups can identify any development of polyps. The removal of them will prevent colon cancer from starting and from spreading.

Once polyps have been discovered on an individual, they will be scheduled for regular follow up appointments. These may be every three months, six months, or annually depending on the family history of inherited colon cancer and the amount of polyps that were discovered. Those with high cholesterol are also at a greater risk of inherited colon cancer. Getting tested for that can help to detect factors that can be controlled as everyone can choose to reduce the amount of fatty foods they consume.

Testing for diabetes is common for those with inherited colon cancer as well. Statistics show that individuals with diabetes are 1/3 more likely to be diagnosed with inherited colon cancer. Effective treatment of their diabetes can help to offset the development of the colon cancer.

There are different types of screenings that a person can have completed in order to be tested for inherited colon cancer. A fecal blood test can be done annually when the individual goes in for a regular check up. There is a flexible sigmoidoscopy that can be conducted every five years. A full colonoscopy only has to be done once every ten years. Your doctor can tell you what tests they recommend you engage in based on your family history, your current health issues, and your age.

Inherited colon cancer is an issue you really need to be concerned with it there is any family history of it at all. It is ranked as the third highest form of cancer diagnosed in the United States. It is the second largest cause of cancer related deaths in the United States as well. While it does affect slightly more males than females both sexes need to be aware of their family history. If this isn’t possible then early testing should be part of preventative measures.

More than one million people in the United States have been diagnosed with inherited colon cancer and are survivors. Due to the progressing of testing for it and aggressive treatment options early diagnosis definitely has contributed to their ability to beat the odds. It can take up to ten years from the first signs of inherited colon cancer being recognized to a person developing incurable cancer that will spread and result in their death.

‘Buddy Bracelet’ Spreads Awareness of Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is 90 percent preventable and 90 percent treatable when detected early, yet it continues to be the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.

To help spread the message about the importance of early detection, the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation and its 54 partners have joined together to celebrate National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month by introducing the “Buddy Bracelet,” a unique and powerful way to promote public awareness of the disease.

“Today, in a sea of colored bracelets, the blue Buddy Bracelet stands out by creating a clever way for people to take their health into their own hands,” said Carolyn Aldigé, president and founder of the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation. “The bracelet spreads the message that colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable.”

Launched in 2004 to celebrate National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the Buddy Bracelet reminds those who wear it to get screened for colorectal cancer. After the person is screened, he or she gives the bracelet to a family member, friend or colleague, passing on the powerful message about talking with a health care professional about colorectal cancer. The bracelet then is transferred from that person to another person and so on.

The bracelet’s theme, “Wear it, share it, because you care,” is a message that could save thousands of lives.

People at average risk for

colorectal cancer should get screened starting at age 50. Younger people can help support the Buddy Bracelet effort by learning about their families’ medical histories, starting a dialogue about colorectal cancer with their health care professionals and reminding loved ones to get screened.

Staging Colon Cancer

When a doctor wants to evaluate the progress of colon cancer of one of his patients he or she uses a method called Staging. This method is about finding out to what extent the tumor (colon cancer) has spread to the other regions of the patients body. Once the doctors figured out in what stage the colon cancer is, they will develop the best course of action or treatment.

At this point in time the system that is most commonly used for the staging process of colon cancer is called the American Joint Committee on Cancer’s (AJCC) TNM staging system. Simply put this system used for staging places the patients into one of four stages.

Stage 0

Stage 0 also known as carcinoma in situ or colorectal cancer. In this stage the colon cancer has been detected in the innermost lining of the colon.

Stage I

In this stage the colon cancer has already begun to spread. But the cancer is still in the inner lining of the rectum or colon. In this stage the colon cancer has not reached the outer walls of the colon yet. Stage I is also known as Duke A or colorectal cancer.

Stage II

In this stage the colon cancer spread more deeply into or through the colon or rectum. Possibly the colon cancer may have affected other tissue as well. In this stage the colon cancer hasn’t reached the Lymph nodes (bean-sized structures which can be found in the entire body that helps the body fight all kinds of infections and diseases. Stage II is also known as Duke B or colorectal cancer.

Stage III

When you are in this stage the colon cancer has now spread to the Lymph nodes although it hasn’t spread to nearby parts of the body. Stage III is also known as Duke C or colorectal cancer.

Stage IV

In this stage the colon cancer has spread through the Lymph node system to other nearby tissue. This is most commonly called metastasis. The organs that most likely are affected are the lungs and liver. Stage IV is also known as Duke D or colorectal cancer.

Recurrent Colon Cancer or Cancerous Cells

When doctors talk about recurrent colon cancer they mean that cancerous cells that have already been treated have returned. These cancerous cells could possibly have returned as colorectal cancer but they might as well return in any other part of the body too.

One Simple Test Can Help You Fight The Battle Against Colon Cancer

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States for both women and men. This disease surpasses both breast and prostate cancer in mortality, second only to lung cancer in the number of cancer deaths. Despite the fact that it is highly preventable, it is estimated that 148,610 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed and 55,170 people will die from the disease in 2006. However, when detected and treated early, colorectal cancer has a five-year survival rate of greater than 90 percent. For that reason, routine screening is vital in the prevention and detection of this deadly disease.

CRC Screening

According to the American Cancer Society, “beginning at age 50, both men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should follow one of these five testing schedules:

• yearly fecal occult blood test (FOBT)* or fecal immunochemical test (FIT)

• flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years

• yearly FOBT* or FIT plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years**

• double-contrast barium enema every five years

• colonoscopy every 10 years

* For FOBT, the take-home multiple sample method should be used.

** The combination of yearly FOBT or FIT plus flexible sigmoid-oscopy every five years is preferred over either of these options alone.

All positive tests should be followed up with colonoscopy.”

New Test

One simple, easy-to-use test is Quidel’s QuickVue® iFOB test. QuickVue iFOB is a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) where the sample is collected by the patient in the privacy of his/her home and mailed to the physician for testing. The test detects the presence of blood in stool specimens, an indication of a number of gastrointestinal disorders, including colorectal cancer.

The QuickVue iFOB test requires only one specimen. Because it is specific to human hemoglobin (blood), there are no dietary restrictions and only certain medication restrictions, distinguishing it from guaiac-based tests that have onerous restrictions. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, in comparison with guaiac-based tests, commonly known as Fecal Occult Blood Tests (FOBTs), immunochemical tests are more patient-friendly.

“We are committed to saving lives through early screening and detection of colon cancer,” said John Tamerius, Ph.D., Vice President, Clinical and Regulatory Affairs, Quidel Corporation. “We believe our unique, patient-friendly sample collection device makes this screening process as easy as possible for the patient.”

Despite these recent advancements in CRC screening, less than 50 percent of people age 50 or older have had a recent test. There appears to be a significant opportunity for CRC prevention since it takes an average of 10 years for cancerous cells to develop. Therefore, if you’re over the age of 50 or have a family history of colon cancer, you should speak with your physician about taking an iFOB test. The test is simple, takes a minimal amount of time and may help save your life.

Colon Cancer Causes Revealed

Colon cancer is a major illness and one that can cause life altering effects. In fact, this form of cancer is one of the most common in the nation. Most colon cancer patients suffer from polyps, which are abnormal cells that form clusters. When normal cells begin to transform, a potential problem arises. As time progresses, these growths get bigger and can lead to the development of cancer. A vast majority of sufferers have a family history with the disease. In addition, the risk of developing colon cancer increases with age and is most common in those ages 50 and up. Certain individuals simply carry the genetic makeup, which can be identified through a series of tests, that may lead to colon cancer.

While there are no certain ways to pinpoint exactly who develops cancer, or why, there are several risk factors that may increase an individual’s chance of developing the illness. Among them, a previous battle with cancer, a family history with colon cancer, poor diets, smoking and obesity. With so many risk factors, one may wonder if there is anything that they can do in order to prevent colon cancer. Studies show that a lot of physical activity or exercise and a low-fat, high-fiber diet may help to reduce the risks. In addition, certain medicines may also help to prevent the disease.

As is the case with many ailments, symptoms are often very similar to those of other diseases. It can be extremely difficult to get an accurate assessment of what’s wrong when so many illnesses carry the same symptoms. For this reason, it’s important to seek medical attention if an individual experiences abnormal bleeding, weakness, pale complexion or abdominal expansion without weight gain, nausea, any change in bowel movements or weight loss. Each person is different and, as such, symptoms may vary slightly. Because symptoms may either present themselves as severe or barely noticeable, it is recommended that patients be screened regularly for the presence of cancer causing factors.

If left untreated, any type of cancerous cells have the ability to grow and spread throughout the rest of the body. This can lead to the need for further surgery, more intense treatments or, in the worst case, a cancer may become so advanced that it will not respond to treatment. When seeking medical attention, it’s important to understand that there are a series of tests that can detect and diagnose colon cancer. A physician will be able to answer any questions that a patient may have regarding treatment options and the likelihood of their success.

This article should not be construed as professional medical advice. If you, or someone that you know, is concerned about the possibility of cancer, you should seek medical attention immediately. A medical doctor can discuss various options, prevention and treatment possibilities should the presence of cancer be detected. A series of tests may be conducted in order to confirm, or rule out, any such diagnosis and can only be done by a medical doctor.

New At-Home Test Aids In Cancer Screening

There’s encouraging news for the millions of Americans at risk for colon cancer. A new, easy-to-use fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is available for at-home screening and is designed specifically to detect colon cancer at its earliest stages.

Hemoccult ICT is a new, safe and affordable FOBT screening option for colon cancer-the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Despite its high incidence, colon cancer is a highly treatable cancer, with a 90 percent survival rate when detected early. Unfortunately, only half of the more than 80 million Americans over age 50 have been screened for colon cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends annual screening with a FOBT for both men and women beginning at age 50. Annual colon cancer screening with FOBT has been proven to decrease mortality by 33 percent when compared with no screening. Because colon cancer can take three to 10 years or longer to develop in the average patient, it is important to begin screening prior to developing symptoms.

FOBT vs. Colonoscopy

For years colonoscopy has been the most well-known test in colon cancer screening. While widely regarded as the gold standard, colonoscopy does have some drawbacks:

• Colonoscopy costs between $300 and $1,000, and while covered by insurance for many, millions of Americans lack health insurance.

• Standard colonoscopy can be overwhelming for some people due to the fact that the procedure is usually done under sedation, and because patients are required to follow a special diet and take a very strong laxative before the exam.

• Due to a limited number of trained professionals and the equipment needed to perform the tests, the maximum number of colonoscopies that can be performed in the United States each year can accommodate only a quarter of the Americans in need of screening.

Unlike other available FOBTs, the new Hemoccult ICT has no drug or dietary restrictions-allowing people to begin testing at their convenience. If a test comes back positive, a follow-up colonoscopy typically is recommended.