Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Options for Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Colorectal cancer occurs when abnormal growths (polyps) form in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can help find those polyps before they turn into cancer or catch the cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most effective.

Kathy Domiano, a family nurse practitioner at Missouri Ozarks Community Health, says your risk of getting colorectal cancer goes up as you age. “Other risk factors include things like family history, a history of inflammatory bowel diseases, like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis,” said Domiano. Lifestyle factors, like poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and alcohol or tobacco use can also increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

Screening Options: Stool Tests

Stool tests are one of the screening options for colorectal cancer. The tests are non-invasive and can be picked up from your doctor’s office and either returned to the office or mailed directly to an outside company. The FIT Test (available at all Missouri Ozarks Community Health clinics) looks for blood in the stool. “There’s really no pain in it,” said Domiano. “There’s no prep. You don’t even have to leave your house to do it.”  Other stool tests look for DNA markers in the stool for cancer. The tests that look for DNA markers can be done once every three years, while the FIT test should be completed every year.

Screening Options: Visual Tests

The other main screening option for colorectal cancer is visual tests. That includes a colonoscopy, what Domiano refers to as “the gold standard” for colorectal cancer screening. During a colonoscopy, a doctor uses a small camera on the end of a tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum or colon. Doctors can remove most polyps and some cancers during the test. The tests also can be done less frequently. According to the CDC, they can be completed once every 10 years for those who do not have an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

Getting Tested

Symptoms of colorectal cancer are varied, and can include changes in your stool, changes with the frequency of your bowel movements, belly pain, weight loss, and fatigue.  “Those are kind of the standard symptoms that someone would experience,” said Domiano. “But unfortunately, with colon cancer, people oftentimes don’t have symptoms.”

That is why Domiano said it is important to get screened if you are 45 or older OR if you have an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Talk to your provider to learn more about the screening options and what is right for you. You can reach the clinics at Missouri Ozarks Community Health at the numbers below:

  • Ava Clinic: (417) 683-5739
  • Mansfield Clinic: (417) 924-8809
  • Mountain Grove Clinic: (417) 926-1713
  • Cabool Clinic: (417) 962-5422
  • Houston Clinic: (417) 967-0772
  • Gainesville Clinic: (417) 679-2775
Files under: News and Events

Media Contact:

Lacy Monteleone

(417) 683-5739, ext. 1422

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