Detecting Colon Cancer Before it Spreads
Detecting colon cancer early is crucial because it is a highly prevalent and potentially deadly form of cancer. The colon, also known as the large intestine, is responsible for processing and eliminating waste from the body. If cancer cells form in the colon, they can grow and spread to other parts of the body, leading to severe health consequences and even death.
The early stages of colon cancer often have no noticeable symptoms, which is why regular screening is critical. When colon cancer is detected early, it is much more treatable and has a higher chance of being cured. Colon cancer screening tests, such as colonoscopies, can detect precancerous growths (polyps) before they turn into cancer or identify cancer in its early stages.
One in 20 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. It is the third most common diagnosed cancer in both men and women. Most cases appear in people 50 years or older, however cases among younger adults in America are dramatically increasing. With early screening 60% of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented. As you age you become more at risk that’s why it’s important to be continually screened.
Hamilton Health Center offers several ways to screen for colorectal cancer, including the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and the newer Cologuard Stool DNA screening. These screening methods differ and should be seen as the first step in testing for colon cancer. A positive result from either method should be followed up with a colonoscopy, which is procedure that examines the large intestine using medical equipment and a camera that records the process so that the doctor can identify and remove abnormal growths (polyps) that are found.
The FIT Test
Blood in your stool can often go unnoticed. The FIT test detects hidden blood which is an early sign of cancer. That means you can treat it before it spreads further.
The FIT test is a relatively simple process you can do on your own in the privacy of your home.
Steps to Check For Colon Cancer with FIT Test
- Flush the toilet before use
- Place the used toilet paper in the waste bag provided do not put it in the toilet
- Use the brush from the kit and scrape the surface of the stool
- Wipe the brush gently on the space indicated on the test card
- Add the brush to the waste bag
- Throw it away then simply mail the used kit to the lab to be tested
Upon completion of the FIT test, your provider at Hamilton will contact you with the results.
In addition to the FIT test, Hamilton also uses the FDA approved Cologuard test, which is a noninvasive screening test used to detect colon cancer and precancerous polyps. DNA testing for colon cancer detection is on the rise because of the accurate findings. This test is approved by the FDA and is recommended for people aged 50 and older who are at average risk for colon cancer.
Cologuard tests work by detecting DNA and blood biomarkers in a stool sample. The sample is collected using a kit that is sent to the patient’s home. The kit includes a collection container, a preservative, and a mailing container. The patient collects a stool sample and sends it back to the lab for analysis.
The Cologuard test analyzes the DNA in the stool sample for the presence of abnormal cells that may indicate colon cancer. It also tests for the presence of blood, which may also be a sign of colon cancer or polyps.
If the test results are positive, it does not necessarily mean that the patient has colon cancer. A positive result means that further testing, such as a colonoscopy, is needed to confirm the diagnosis. If the test results are negative, it does not completely rule out the possibility of colon cancer, but it does indicate that further testing is not necessary at that time.
Colon cancer screening tests are a convenient and noninvasive option for detecting colon cancer. It is important to note that this test is not a substitute for regular colonoscopies, which are the gold standard for detecting colon cancer and polyps. However, it can be a useful tool in detecting colon cancer in its early stages, when it is most treatable.
Be one of the 1 million colorectal cancer survivors in the US. Use the FIT test to detect symptoms early when it’s most curable.
Hamilton Health Center wants to make sure all of our patients are cancer-free. Contact your provider today to learn more about colon cancer screenings.