In 2011, nearly 50,000 Americans will die from colorectal cancer. This
disease, which usually originates in polyps found in the colon (large
intestine) or rectum, is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in
the United States - but it doesn’t have to be this way.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 60 percent of colorectal
cancer deaths could have been prevented through routine screenings after
age 50. These preventative screenings are also therapeutically beneficial
to patients, as they can detect polyps, which can then be removed during
the procedure before they become cancerous.
Several different types of screening tests are currently used to find polyps
and/or colorectal cancer. Talk with your doctor to determine which test
is best for you.
Early detection is key in the fight against colorectal cancer - when a
case is identified and treated early on, CDC data has shown that the five-year
relative survival rate is 90 percent. A number of research institutions
and healthcare companies are working to improve the diagnostic process
for colorectal cancer by examining ways to make screening less invasive,
while maintaining accuracy.
One such endeavor is the use of the Septin 9 methylated DNA biomarker to
detect colorectal cancer in blood plasma, at any stage of the disease
and within any part of the colon or rectum.
According to research presented at ASCO in 2010, an improved version of
the SEPT9 methylated DNA test detected 90% of cancers at a specificity
of 89%. This is good news for millions of Americans who do not currently
comply with colorectal cancer screening guidelines! The SEPT9 blood-based
colorectal cancer screening test appears to be an easy and sound way to
detect cancers at the stage where excellent treatment outcomes are within reach.
A colonoscopy allows your doctor to examine the inner lining of your colon
and rectum, using a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope. With a video
camera attached to the end, the colonoscope can take photos and/or video
of your entire large intestine, helping to find ulcers, colon polyps,
cancers and areas of inflammation or bleeding. A colonoscopy is also sometimes
recommended as a follow-up test when an abnormality is detected during
one of the other two tests listed below.
High-Sensitivity Fecal Occult Blood Testing (FOBT) includes two different
types of stool tests. The first utilizes the chemical guaiac to detect
blood in the stool, while the second uses antibodies to do the same. Using
a preparation kit provided by their physician, a patient typically gathers
a stool sample and returns it to their doctor or laboratory, where the
sample is analyzed for blood.
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is similar in procedure to a colonoscopy, in that
a physician uses a short, thin, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer
inside a patient’s rectum and colon. However, unlike a colonoscopy,
this test does not offer a complete view of the entire colon - only the