Navigation Links
The Bottom Line on Colon Cancer: Get Screened

SEATTLE, March 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite the fact that colon cancer screening saves lives, the majority of U.S. adults age 50 and over who are eligible for such screening fail to take advantage of it. Consider the numbers: In 2000, only 16.3 million of 80 million eligible adults (about 20 percent) received colon cancer screening such as the fecal occult blood test (the most popular choice), sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.

While each form of colon cancer screening has its advantages and disadvantages, people are often squeamish about anything having do with the subject.

"The important thing is to do at least one of the tests once you reach age 50," said William Grady, M.D., a colorectal cancer specialist at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and member of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

While diet and exercise may play a role in preventing colon cancer, the most important way to prevent death from the disease is through early detection, Grady said. "This means regular colorectal cancer screening tests beginning at age 50 -- earlier if you are at higher risk. If all colon-cancer cases were detected at their earliest stages, five-year overall survival rates would jump from 65 percent to 90 percent."

In  honor of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, this month the Hutchinson Center is reprising its "End Colon Cancer Now" awareness campaign that features a website containing information about screening and a quick test to assess your risk of colon cancer.

Grady and other screening advocates are adamant about colon cancer screening because even though it is preventable, it remains the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. It is also one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S., occurring more than 90 percent of the time in people age 50 and older.

Following is a summary of the currently available colon cancer screening tests:

* Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT): This is a safe and simple test and is most effective if done annually. It involves a take-home kit available from the doctor's office that tests for the presence of blood in the stool. The downside to FOBT is it is not specific to detecting cancer, just blood, which can be a symptom of colon cancer. FOBT has a high false-positive rate. If blood is detected in the stool, the patient will be referred for a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.

* Flexible sigmoidoscopy: Similar to a colonoscopy in that a flexible tube is inserted into the colon via the rectum. A scope looks for growths called polyps on the membrane wall; polyps can be precursors to cancer. Although this test only needs to be done once every five years, it does not examine the entire colon and does not have the ability to remove any polyps that are found.

* Colonoscopy: The current "gold standard" of screening tools, according to Grady, because it only needs to be done once every 10 years in people of normal risk. The scope examines the entire colon and contains a tool to painlessly remove polyps instantly. The downside is mostly the perception that preparing for the test and the exam itself are uncomfortable. However, the process of emptying the colon in advance of the test - taking a special laxative - can be done at home in two parts prior to coming to the clinic for the exam. Patients are usually sedated for the 15-30-minute colonoscopy itself and usually feel nothing.

* Newer, non-invasive high-tech tests are available, such as virtual colonoscopy and CT colonography, however, these radiological exams still require colon-cleansing preparations and cannot remove any polyps that are found.

* In the future, simple blood tests that can detect molecular markers for colon cancer will be available. Grady is a leading researcher in this area. Developing an effective blood test is important because it will greatly increase the rate of screening.

Persons with hereditary risk factors for colon cancer, such as first-degree relatives who had colon cancer, need to be screened earlier and perhaps more often, said Grady, who recommends that such patients talk to their doctor for screening recommendations.

Washington is among 27 states that mandate health insurance coverage of colon cancer screening, which helps to eliminate the financial obstacle to testing.

About Seattle Cancer Care Alliance - 10 Years, Thousands of Lives Saved

Every day, the goal of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is to turn cancer patients into cancer survivors. SCCA unites the adult and pediatric cancer-care programs of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine and Seattle Children's. Together they comprise the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in six states, from Washington to the Dakotas. A major focus of SCCA is to speed the transfer of new diagnostic and treatment techniques from the research setting to the patient bedside. Patients receive the latest research-based cancer therapies as well as cutting-edge treatments. SCCA has three clinical-care sites: an outpatient clinic on the Hutchinson Center campus, a pediatric-inpatient unit at Children's and an adult-inpatient unit at UW Medical Center. SCCA celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2011. For more information visit

This news release was issued on behalf of Newswise™. For more information, visit

SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Copyright©2010 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

Related biology technology :

1. Better batteries from the bottom up
2. Microfluidics Introduces Revolutionary Bottom-up Technology as a Platform for Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
3. ThermoGenesis Reports 15 Percent Increase in First Quarter Revenues; Improved Bottom Line
4. North America automobile sector bottom of world sustainability league
5. Bottoms up: Better organic semiconductors for printable electronics
6. Genomic Health Announces Multiple Colon Cancer Studies at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium
7. Genomic Health Presents Six New Studies Including Four Oral Presentations in Breast, Colon and Renal Cancers at American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting
8. Living longer: Colon cancer patients gain time with radiofrequency ablation treatment
9. Æterna Zentaris Partner Keryx Reports a Statistically Significant Benefit in Survival from Updated Results of a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Phase 2 Study of Perifosine (KRX-0401) in the Treatment of Advanced Metastatic Colon Cancer
10. New Assay Detects 100 Percent of Stage I, II and III Colon Cancers in Pre-Clinical Trials
11. Genomic Health Announces Positive Preliminary Results from QUASAR Validation Study of Oncotype DX(R) Colon Cancer Assay
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... were featured on AngelList early in their initial angel funding process. Now, they ... for individuals looking to make early stage investments in the microbiome space. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... FAR HILLS, N.J. (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... University, as the recipient of the 2016 USGA Green Section Award. Presented annually since ... of golf through his or her work with turfgrass. , Clarke, of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... Conference in New York on Wednesday, December ... Helen Torley , president and CEO, will provide a corporate overview. ... New York at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . ... investor relations, will provide a corporate overview. --> th ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... Copper is an essential micronutrient that ... proteins, copper is also toxic to cells. With a $1.3 million award from ... conduct a systematic study of copper in the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa), ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:11/12/2015)... 11, 2015   Growing need for low-cost, ... has been paving the way for use of ... discrete analytes in clinical, agricultural, environmental, food and ... used in medical applications, however, their adoption is ... to continuous emphasis on improving product quality and ...
(Date:11/10/2015)...  In this report, the biomarkers market ... type, application, disease indication, and geography. The ... consumables, services, software. The type segments included ... biomarkers, and validation biomarkers. The applications segments ... drug discovery and development, personalized medicine, disease ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... , Nov. 09, 2015 ... the addition of the "Global Law ... their offering. --> ) ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) has ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):