admin - March 9, 2012
March is U.S. National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and with perfect timing, the new guidelines for colorectal cancer screening from the American College of Physicians (ACP) were published in the March 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
HealthDay News reports that these updated guidelines now focus on individual risk.
For example, the guidelines stress that screening should begin at age 40 or earlier for those persons – the high-risk patients – with inflammatory bowel disease or a personal or family history of colon cancer.
In fact, for those people who have a parent, sibling or child with colon cancer, screening should begin either at age 40 or 10 years before the age at which the relative was diagnosed, whichever comes first.
For all others – the average-risk patients – the recommended age remains at 50.
Then at age 75, screening is only recommended for healthy persons. Those individuals in this age group who have a life expectancy of less than 10 years are more likely to die of causes other than slowly progressing colorectal cancer, and therefore, screening is not recommended.
In addition to age recommendations, the new guidelines also offer more options for patient exams:
- The colonoscopy, where a flexible tube with a small lens and video camera is passed through the length of the colon. This procedure allows the doctor to view the entire colon as well as take biopsies or remove polyps.
- The sigmoidoscopy, where flexible tube called a signmoidoscope and an attached camera are guided through the rectum and the sigmoid colon. Unlike the optical colonoscopy, the scope is passed through only to the transverse colon. Then it is removed. Biopsies can be taken and polyps can be removed with this procedure.
- The stool sample, where the patient must collect their stool as directed for laboratory exam. This colon cancer screening is non-invasive.
The newer form of non-invasive colonoscopy, called CT or virtual, was not recommended, however, due to a limited number of doctors who have expertise in this technology.
What was the purpose of the ACP putting together these recommendations for screening age and testing options? According to Dr. Amir Qaseem, director of clinical policy for the ACP and lead author of the guidelines, the new recommendations aim to: (1) Help physicians provide better care for patients by urging them to gather patient histories and recommend screenings accordingly, and (2) encourage patients to find a test that they’re comfortable with so they’ll be more apt to discuss screenings with their doctor.
Why did the ACP feel this was necessary? As it stands now, only about 60% of adults age 50 and over get regular screenings, even though colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S.
Have you been screened? Talk to your healthcare professional and read how you can get a FIT at-home colon cancer screening test through Life Line Screening at: http://www.lifelinescreeningblog.com/index.php/fit-at-home-colon-cancer-screening-test-offered/.
Read the HealthDay News article in full detail at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_122594.html