After her husband, Jay, died of colon cancer, Katie Couric’s decision to become an advocate for colon cancer awareness and prevention led to a five-part series on the Today Show that aired in 2004.
Farrah Fawcett’s well-documented battle with rectal cancer has once again brought cancer of the lower digestive system into the news.
Actions of famous people can have a huge impact on the general population. The more we learn about the deadly disease, the more likely it is that we will discuss cancer screening with our doctor.
What is Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer develops inside the large intestine, from tiny growths called polyps. This lower part of your digestive system is also called the colon. Over time, some polyps can become cancerous. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last six inches of the colon. Together, they are referred to as colorectal cancer. Polyps are not cancerous to start and may never develop into cancer. However, over a period of time the slow-growing polyps can turn into a cancerous tumor.
There are various forms of screening and your doctor can advise which is right for you. The one most publicized is the colonoscopy. Another test is less familiar to most of us, the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT).
What is a Colonoscopy?
An examination of the lining of your rectum and colon using a long flexible tube with a camera on the end. It is recommended for those who are at increased risk such as those who have one or more close relatives who had colorectal cancer and those who have positive test results from other tests.
What is a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)?
A simple self-administered test that can be done in the privacy of your home. It can detect the presence of trace amounts of blood in your stool. A positive response does not necessarily mean that you have colorectal cancer but does require a follow up to determine the source of the blood. Only about 10 percent of people who have positive
results have cancer. It is recommended that everyone over 50 without a history of colorectal cancer take the FOBT test every two years since there is a 90 percent chance that colorectal cancer can be cured if caught early.
Research is conducted every day to produce simpler, less invasive detection methods. Meanwhile, we should take advantage of the screening tests available today. If you have family history of colon cancer or you’re over fifty, take that all important first step and discuss it with your doctor.