Kristina Transue, RN MSN
Leslie Brousseau, BSN MS
Population Health Nurses
Eisenhower Army Medical Center

If you are between ages 50-75, this article is for you. Your risk of colon cancer increases dramatically after the age of 50 and that 90 percent of colorectal cancers appear in men and women 50 years old or older.
Early colon cancer rarely has symptoms, which is why screening is so important. Because many patients put off their routine CRC screenings, colon cancer is now the second leading cause of cancer related deaths. When detected early, CRC is 90 percent curable. Eisenhower Army Medical Center offers two excellent options for colorectal cancer screening.

The colonoscopy is the "gold standard" of colorectal cancer screening. During the colonoscopy the gastroenterologist examines the lower gastrointestinal tract with a scope. The doctor inspects the colon for abnormalities and growths, called polyps, which are then removed and sent for further study to determine if cancerous cells are present. If your colonoscopy is normal, you will not need further colorectal cancer screening for 10 years.

Been avoiding a colonoscopy? You may be a candidate for an easy, noninvasive cancer screening test for patients of average risk of colon cancer. This at-home test that uses stool DNA to detect abnormal cells and blood hidden in the stool. If the test comes back negative, screening should be repeated in three years. If the test comes back positive, your provider will order a colonoscopy to determine the source of the cells that were detected.

In addition to routine screening, you can take positive steps to reduce your risk of CRC. Lifestyle choices that increase your risk of colon cancer are obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol use, lack of exercise, a diet high in red and processed meat. Also, having Type 2 diabetes increases your risk.

Stop putting it off. Contact your health-care provider to discuss which CRC screening option is best for you. Remember, colorectal cancer screening can save your life.