Colon cancer screening
Colon cancer is a common cause of death in Australia, with a lifetime risk of about 1 in 19 (over 5%) for men and 1 in 28 for women. The risk increases sharply over the age of 50. Around 80 Australians die each week from bowel cancer, but if found early it is one of the most curable types of cancer. Bowel cancer develops when cells in the bowel lining grow too quickly, forming a clump known as a polyp or an adenoma. Studies have shown that screening tests can prevent colon cancer.
If you have a family history of colon cancer then you need to discuss this with your doctor as to when you should be tested.
The risks of colon cancer includes:
Some symptoms of bowel cancer may include:
Common screening tests for colon cancer may include:
Faecal occult blood test (FOBT)
Advantages of this test – Colonoscopy finds most small polyps and almost all large polyps and cancers. If found, polyps can be removed right away.
Drawbacks to this test – Colonoscopy has more risks than the other screening tests. In 1 in 1,000 people, it can cause bleeding or tear the inside of the colon. Cleaning out the bowel beforehand can be unpleasant. Plus, people usually cannot work or even drive themselves home the day of the test, because of the relaxation medicine they must take during the test.