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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer, is the third most common cancer diagnosed among both men and women in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer death. The good news is that screening tests can detect colorectal cancer at its earliest stages when it is easier to treat and possibly cure.

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), and rectal cancer is cancer of the last 6 inches of the colon. Together, they're often referred to as colorectal cancers.

Screenings, such as stool blood tests and colonoscopies, can help doctors identify polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer.

The latest guidelines list four testing options that are likely to find both polyps and cancer:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
  • Double contrast barium enema every five years
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every five years

The new screening guidelines, which were developed by experts at the American Cancer Society in collaboration with the U.S. Multisociety Task Force on Colorectal Cancer and the American College of Radiology, aim to help doctors and patients make more informed decisions about cancer screening. They apply to people 50 and older with an average risk of developing colon cancer. People at increased or high risk of colon cancer may need to follow a more intensive screening schedule.

These higher risk groups also include:

  • Anyone with a family history of colorectal cancer.
  • Anyone who has had precancerous polyps.
  • Anyone who uses tobacco, drinks alcohol to excess, is obese or leads a sedentary life.
  • Anyone with a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

"Beginning screening at the appropriate age is the single most important thing you can do in the fight against colorectal cancer," says Marc Brand, MD, a surgeon at Rush and surgical director of the Sandra Rosenberg Registry for Hereditary and Familial Colon Cancer.

Our free online screening survey can help you determine if you are at risk and should begin screening.

To learn more about how to keep yourself cancer free and the latest treatments for colon cancer, join our experts at Rush at this upcoming event:
Know Your Risk for Colon Cancer
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
6 to 8 p.m.
Armour Academic Center, Room 994
600 S. Paulina St.
For more information or to register, call (888) 352-RUSH (7874) or click here to register online.

More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • Check out your risk of colon cancer using the questionnaire on the Rush Health Associates’ Web site.
  • For more information about cancer treatment and care at Rush, visit our Cancer Programs home page.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (888 352-7874).

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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