Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cancer in women and the
third most common cancer in men. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing
CRC is: about 1 in 22 for men and 1 in 24 for women. Although it can be
a scary diagnosis, CRC is highly preventable with proper screening.
When should screening for colorectal cancer begin?
Since approximately 90% of cases occur after age 50, screening the general
population is recommended around ages 45 to 50. According to personal
and family history, symptoms and/or previous medical diagnoses, screening
may need to begin earlier. A colonoscopy may also be needed due to clinical
changes, such as sudden rectal bleeding or drastic changes in bowel patterns
that become chronic.
How do most colorectal cancers begin?
Most colorectal cancers begin as polyps that grow and develop into cancer.
It takes 10 years on average to progress from a polyp to a carcinoma or
cancerous mass. Screening recommendations are at a minimal interval of
every 10 years. With a known history of polyps, depending on size, quantity,
and type, screening frequency can be shortened. The prevalence of colon
polyps increases with age and chronic conditions, including Inflammatory
Bowel Diseases like Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.
What are risk factors for colorectal cancer?
Risk factors vary based upon family history, age, race and gender. Clinical
risk factors include Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease and Inflammatory
Bowel Disease. A prior colorectal cancer diagnosis or polyp history, abdominal
radiation in childhood, radiotherapy for prostate cancer, endometrial
cancer at a young age, and HIV infected male patients can also increase
What are the screening options?
Colonoscopy remains the gold standard for screening since it is the only
way a polyp can be retrieved and examined and the colon most clearly visualized.
Some providers may feel it is beneficial to combine screening methods
for a more accurate picture of your colorectal health, i.e. FIT, a home
test for hidden blood in the stool, flexible sigmoidoscopy, barium enema
with air contrast, or virtual colonoscopy using CT.
About J. Katy Topp, APRN
J. Katy Topp, an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), is a certified
Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) and board-certified by the
American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She recently joined
Methodist Gastroenterology at Methodist Hospital located at 1305 North Elm Street in Henderson, KY.
Schedule your appointment with Topp today by calling 270-826-0002.