For adults age 50 and older, having a colon cancer screening on a regular basis is an important part of preventive health care. Regular colorectal cancer screenings are one of the most powerful weapons for preventing colorectal cancer. In most people, colorectal cancers develop slowly over several years. With a regular schedule of screenings, colorectal cancer can be diagnosed before it has spread. Early treatment can boost the survival rate for colorectal cancer.
Risk factors for colon cancer include a history of polyps, a family history of colon cancer, or the presence of blood in the stool, age, or a personal history of bowel disease. Some risk factors are related to lifestyle and can be changed with focus on an individual's diet, weight, smoking habits, alcohol use, and exercise. Colon cancer is often highly treatable. The five-year survival rate is about 90% for colon cancer caught early. Colon cancer screenings and diagnosis are the best way to find cancer at an early stage.
The James E. Cary Cancer Center is a proud participant in the Colon Cancer Crusade during March which recommends that adults aged 50 or older begin a regular schedule of screenings for the disease. The Colon Cancer Crusade, sponsored also by Hannibal Regional Hospital, Hannibal Clinic, local county health departments (including Marion, Pike and Ralls), University of Missouri Extension and local pharmacies, make free fecal occult blood test (FOBT) kits available to residents of our region. It's recommended that the FOBT test be performed once per year.
During March, FOBT test kits are available at many locations in and around Hannibal and can be picked up free of charge. The FOBT test can be done at home. A positive result may require other tests to follow to verify the findings. Other screening options include sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, double contrast barium enema or CT colonography, all of which Hannibal Regional Hospital has the capability to provide. A physician referral is required. Medicare and most insurance companies will cover a portion of the cost for colonoscopy to be administered on a regular schedule of screenings.
Hannibal Regional Hospital's high-tech imaging technology provides a wider field of view, making it easier for the doctor to visualize the colon. The Olympus 180 gastrointestinal (GI) imaging system has special features that allow for a closer inspection and may provide earlier detection of polyps and vascular changes that may be a sign of cancer.
CT colonography is another screening option for some patients. This non-invasive test uses x-ray equipment and computers to produce a very detailed multidimensional view of the colon. At this time, CT colonography is not covered as a routine screening by Medicare. It is covered by insurance only for medical necessity.
For more information on colon cancer and colon cancer screenings, call the James E. Cary Cancer Center at 573-406-5800.