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Colorectal Cancer Awareness

Salem Creekside Newsletter - April 2015
Colorectal Cancer Awareness

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and it's the perfect time to talk about the importance of regular screenings.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death. It affects women and men of all ethnicities, most often in people 50 or older, and is the third most common cancer in the U.S. The good news is that it's one of the most preventable and easily-treated cancers. In fact, if everyone over 50 was regularly screened, up to 80% of colorectal cancer deaths could be avoided.

Screening allows doctors to detect precancerous polyps, which can then be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening also ensures the likelihood that the cancer will be found in its early stages, when treatment most often leads to remission.

There are several options for screening, including:

  • Colonoscopy: examines the rectum and entire colon with a long, lighted tube.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: examines the rectum and lower colon using a lighted tube.
  • Double-contrast barium enema: an air and barium solution that can help show polyps or tumors on x-rays.

Fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) are another option for colorectal cancer screening. They test the stool for signs that indicate the presence of cancer. While easier to take and not as invasive, these tests are less likely to detect polyps.

Though these tests can be uncomfortable, they play a very important role in ensuring your health, especially if you have a family history of cancer. If you are over 50, please make time to be screened regularly, and urge those you love to do the same.

Clark Yoder, RN
Director of Surgical Services
Santiam Hospital