Lower Gastrointestinal Tract
Why is screening for colorectal cancer important?
Colorectal cancer is the most common cancer of the digestive system. Screening tests are important to diagnose a disease prior to developing symptoms. When detected in the early stage, the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is greater than 90 percent. In addition, polyps, which are not malignant, may be removed during a screening procedure, thus avoiding cancer. The screening guidelines suggested by the American Cancer Society for both men and women over the age 50 with average risk for colorectal cancer include:
A fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year, or
Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, or
An FOBT or FIT every year, plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, or
Double-contrast barium enema every five years, or
Colonoscopy every 10 years
Of the first three options, the combination of FOBT or FIT every year, plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, is preferable.