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.