Get Off Your ___! It’s Colorectal Month!


We admit that it’s hard to write an article about this important issue without slipping into a sophomoric detour.  But colon cancer is no laughing matter and if just one of our Suddenly Solo readers is motivated to get a screening, we will consider our efforts at exercising literary restraint well-rewarded.

Just a few days ago, a new study found that getting screening colonoscopies may substantially reduce the risk of developing advanced colon cancer.  In average-risk people, screening colonoscopies were associated with a 70 percent reduction in risk for new, late-stage colon cancer, including hard-to-detect cancers on the right side of the colon. Advanced colon cancer is the least curable form.

We have all heard that colonoscopies are a “gold standard” for cancer detection. However, the study did not show that colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy is better than the much easier, far less expensive “fecal occult blood test” (FOBT), which is done at home by swiping a tiny amount of stool onto a card for three days.

For the study, published in the March 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, the authors reviewed health records of more than 1,000 average-risk adults between the ages of 55 and 85 who were members in four health management organizations (HMOs).

The bottom (stop it!) line is that any sort of screening (colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy or FOBT) shows substantial diagnostic advantage in detecting early stage trouble when it is the most curable.  If you have not had any of these screenings, please use this month as a starting point and join the rest of us sometimes reluctant participants and just do it!



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