OhioHealth Medical Minute: Colon Cancer
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed and treated at OhioHealth. Due to the rising of cases of younger colon cancer patients, the American Cancer Society changed its screening recommendations from the age of 50 to the age of 45 in 2018. The starting age for screenings could be even earlier, if your relative had colon cancer.
“If you have a first-degree relative, such as a parent, sibling, or child, who had colon cancer at a young age, screening should start 5-10 years before the youngest age of diagnosis in the family,” said Bob Maxwell, MD, general surgeon at OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital and OhioHealth Shelby Hospital. “Unfortunately, there aren’t that many signs, which is why screening is so important. Certainly, if someone experiences bleeding, crampy pain, or start losing weight and appetite, those could potentially be signs. Many people have no signs at all.”
Dr. Maxwell described screening options:
- Stool test is the most dated and least accurate option. The test checks for blood in the stool. Unfortunately, the test can be impacted by diet, such as high iron, which can cause a false positive test result.
- Cologuard tests DNA and is more accurate. The screening looks for DNA from polyps and cancers.
- Colonoscopy is the most complete and accurate screening. This exam can reveal problem areas and identify changes in the colon earlier than ever before. Enhanced imaging technology, new tools, and effective medications now make it possible to remove polyps that were once impossible to remove.
“The number of times that screening occurs really depends on when which test is chosen,” said Dr. Maxwell. “For instance, if a blood test is used for blood in the stool, that has to happen every year. Cologuard is probably about every 3 years, and colonoscopy, if nothing is found, can be 5-10 years.”
The OhioHealth Colon Cancer Program provides a multidisciplinary team of colorectal cancer experts, including those from the MD Anderson Cancer Network®, work together to provide comprehensive treatment options.
To get in touch with a cancer specialist who can answer your questions and help connect you to screening options close to home, contact OhioHealth CancerCall Monday-Friday, 8 AM-5 PM at (800) 752-9119.