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Colorectal cancer screenings continue to save lives, increasingly in younger adults

When it comes to cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Cancer Society’s latest guidelines recommend that colorectal cancer screening begin at age 45 for patients at "average risk."
It appears those guidelines are having an impact and potentially saving lives. The American Cancer Society says more people under 50 are getting screened and, as a result, colorectal cancer is being found in an increasing number of younger adults. The American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a shared goal to screen 80 percent of individuals ages 45 to 75 using an approved screening method. 
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal screenings can be divided into two main groups: Stool-based tests and visual exams:
  • Stool-based tests – For stool-based tests, a fecal sample is collected and tested for signs of cancer. These tests are not as invasive and are easier to have done than other tests, but they have to be done more regularly. There are options to collect the sample from the comfort of your own home and then send to a lab for testing.
  • Visual exams – A colonoscopy is perhaps the most commonly known example of a visual exam. Visual exams are tests that look at the structure of the colon and rectum for anything irregular. To perform this test, which can take about 30 minutes or a little longer, the colon and rectum must be empty and clean. If anything abnormal is found, the physician will likely take a sample to test. A sedative is used to help keep you comfortable during the test, so you may need someone to help drive you home and get you settled afterward.
"If you are screened with any test other than a colonoscopy and have abnormal results, your doctor likely will want to follow up with a colonoscopy, " says Lisa Schmidt, RN, an oncology nurse navigator at Ascension Via Christi's Cancer Outreach and Risk Assessment program. "Each screening method has different positives and negatives, so consult with your doctor about which option is right for you."
For more information about the Ascension Via Christi CORA program, call 316-268-5890.

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About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.