Colon cancer can often be prevented through regular screening.
People with an average risk should begin screening at age 50. However, In the UK you don’t qualify for the NHS bowel cancer ‘FIT’ test until you’re 60.
10% of colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed under 50’s, and 73% are diagnosed at later stage. So it’s recommended that you start screening as soon as you notice any potential abnormal symptoms.
Because colorectal cancer usually does not cause symptoms until the disease is advanced, it is important for people to talk with their doctor about the pros and cons of each screening test and how often each test should be given. Under the guidelines below, people should begin colon cancer screening earlier and/or undergo screening more often if they have any of the following colon cancer risk factors:
- A personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
- A strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, such as cancer or polyps in a first-degree relative younger than 60 or in 2 first-degree relatives of any age. A first-degree relative is defined as a parent, sibling, or child.
- A personal history of chronic IBD
- A family history of any hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome, such as FAP, Lynch syndrome, or other syndromes
There are several tests used to screen for colorectal cancer, including:
At Pall Mall Medical, we offer an at home, bowel cancer testing kit. ColoAlert® is an award-winning next-generation colorectal cancer home screening test developed to detect changes in the bowel earlier and more accurately than the standard ‘FIT’ test. Testing is recommended every three years from the age of 45.
The test is designed to detect blood and mutated DNA in the stool for the early detection of bowel cancer before any symptoms or bleeding may occur. This offers better early detection than faecal occult blood tests alone. Bowel cancer can be cured if it is detected in the early stages, ColoAlert detects 85 % of colorectal cancer cases and often in very early stages of the disease.
A colonoscopy allows the doctor to look inside the rectum and colon to look for polyps or cancer. During this procedure, a doctor can remove polyps or other tissue for examination. The removal of polyps can also prevent colorectal cancer.
A Virtual colonoscopy may be an alternative for people who cannot have a standard colonoscopy due to the risk of anaesthesia, which is medication to block the awareness of pain, or if a person has a blockage in the colon that prevents a full examination.
A sigmoidoscopy uses a flexible, lighted tube that is inserted into the rectum and lower colon to check for polyps, cancer, and other abnormalities. During this procedure, a doctor can remove polyps or other tissue for later examination. The doctor cannot check the upper part of the colon, the ascending and transverse colon, with this test. This screening test allows for the removal of polyps, which can also prevent colorectal cancer, but if polyps or cancer are found using this test, a colonoscopy to view the entire colon is recommended.
- FIT Test
A faecal occult blood test is used to find blood in the faeces, or stool, which can be a sign of polyps or cancer. A positive test, meaning that blood is found in the faeces, can be from causes other than a colon polyp or cancer, including bleeding in the stomach or even eating rare meat or other foods.
If you are experiencing any bowel cancer symptoms, click here to speak to one of our GPs, or call 03300 58 44 55.