Your screening can help with a positive trend

The number of people getting colorectal cancer has gone down over the past few years – a trend experts say is due to more people getting screened. Even so, colorectal cancer is still the country’s third-leading killer because many people avoid testing.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and now is a good time to learn about colorectal cancer and your screening options. 

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a cancer of the colon or rectum, which is part of the body’s digestive system. Most of these cancers start as polyps, or growths that may become cancer over time. 

Why screening matters

Regular screening helps providers find polyps, and remove them before they become cancer.

"Colon cancer screening is a slam dunk," adds Todd Crocenzi, M.D., director of gastrointestinal cancer research at Providence Cancer Center. As Dr. Crocenzi asserts, "Among all the ways people get tested for the presence of cancer, he said, "Colon cancer screening has the strongest evidence to support its effectiveness."

You have options when it comes to colorectal cancer screenings.

  • A colonoscopy is the most complete kind of screening. The provider who does the exam can remove any polyps, which are precancerous masses that form in the colon. If your results are normal, you may not need another screening for 10 years.
  • A fecal immunochemical test, or FIT, is a test you do at home to check for blood in your stool. This test is recommended if you are not able, or don’t want to have a colonoscopy. It should be done each year.

Call your primary care provider to discuss which screening option is best for you.

Providence’s pledge to increase screenings

Providence Health & Services has joined a national initiative called 80% by 2018. As the name says, its goal is to make sure that 80 percent of the population is screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.