Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in West Virginia. Each year in West Virginia, approximately 1,140 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and 450 die from it. From 2011 to 2015, 45 percent of colorectal cancers in West Virginia were diagnosed in the earlier stages of in situ or localized cancer. However, 51 percent of colorectal cancers in West Virginia during this period were diagnosed at regional or distant stages.
“Colorectal cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer when detected in advanced stages and one of the most curable when detected early,” Richard Goldberg, M.D., director of the WVU Cancer Institute, said.
“There are a variety of screening tests ranging from colonoscopy to stool-based tests and even blood tests are being examined in research studies. Through screening and removal of precancerous polyps or early cancers, we can cure more than 95 percent of early stage cancers. Screening should start at age 45-50 unless you have a family member with earlier onset cancer. Be screened, and be saved.”
Both men and women are at risk for colorectal cancer, and that risk increases with age. All men and women between the ages of 50 and 75 should be regularly screened for colorectal cancer. Screening can find cancer early, when it is smaller and easier to treat and cure. Screening can also find polyps and remove them before they have a chance to grow into cancer.
Individuals with increased risk for colorectal cancer include those who are over the age of 50; have polyps in the colon or rectum; have a family history of breast, uterine, or ovarian cancers; or a history of colorectal cancer in a parent, sibling, or child.
There are several screening options approved by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. Stool‐based, at‐home testing options include:
- the annual Guaiac fecal occult blood test,
- the annual fecal immunochemical test (FIT), and
- the fecal immunochemical test‐DNA (FIT‐DNA), done either annually or every three years, depending on the brand.
Direct visualization tests, done in a doctor’s office or at the hospital, include:
- colonoscopy every 10 years,
- CT colonography every five years,
- flexible sigmoidoscopy without FIT every five years, and
- flexible sigmoidoscopy with FIT every 10 years with a FIT every year.
The WVU Cancer Institute encourages everyone over the age of 50 and those who are at high risk to talk to their doctors about which screening option is best for them.
For more information on the WVU Cancer Institute, visit www.wvumedicine.org/cancer.