Be proactive with screenings for colorectal cancer


By pH health care professionals

If you are middle aged, there’s a good chance your doctor has mentioned the C word to you -- colonoscopy. Why? Because of that other C word -- cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). In 2016, an estimated 134,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease, and about 49,000 will die from it. Colorectal cancer is most frequently diagnosed among adults aged 65 to 74 years, the task force reports, and the median age at death from colorectal cancer is 68 years.

What age should you get screened?

The USPSTF recently reviewed the scientific evidence on preventive screenings and found that screening adults ages 50-75 reduces colorectal cancer deaths.

What type of screening is best?

“The USPSTF found no head-to-head studies demonstrating that any of the screening strategies it considered are more effective than others,” the task force wrote, “although the tests have varying levels of evidence supporting their effectiveness, as well as different strengths and limitations.”

The goal is to increase the number of screenings to reduce the number of deaths from colorectal cancer. So if uneasiness about getting a colonoscopy has prevented you from getting screened, talk to your doctor about your concerns. There are other options for direct visualization tests, as well as stool-based tests.

What about any harms of screening?

“The harms of screening for colorectal cancer in adults aged 50 to 75 years are small,” the task force explained. The majority of harms result from the use of colonoscopy. Harmful effects are more likely with increasing age. Therefore, task force wrote, “the harms of screening for colorectal cancer in adults 76 years and older are small to moderate.”

The benefit overall, though, is well worth it, the task force found.

“The USPSTF concludes with high certainty that the net benefit (i.e, the benefit minus the harms) of screening for colorectal cancer in adults aged 50 to 75 years is substantial.”

So what are you waiting for? Be proactive! Get screened today.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.