Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women in the United States, with 134,000 new cases and almost 49,000 deaths occurring nationally (American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures 2016). There are 1,200,000 Americans living with colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women in South Carolina. About 830 people will die this year from this preventable disease, and there will be about 2,200 new cases (American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures 2016).
Only 64.2% of people aged 50 or older report having ever had a colorectal cancer screening test in SC (SC BRFSS 2012).
The rate of new cases has been decreasing for most of the past twenty years, mainly because more people were screened for colorectal cancer. A recent study estimates that screening has prevented approximately 550,000 cases in the US over the past three decades (Yang, Cancer 2014).
Screening has the potential to prevent colorectal cancer, because most colorectal cancers develop from mild polyps. Polyps are noncancerous growths in the colon and rectum. Though most polyps will not become cancerous, detecting and removing them through screening can actually prevent cancer from occurring. Polyps and early stage colon cancer often have no symptoms, making them a "silent killer." Being screened at the recommended frequency increases the likelihood that when colorectal cancer is present, it will be detected at an earlier stage— when it is more likely to be cured, treatment is less extensive and the recovery is faster.
Screening should start at age 50 and continue until age 75 for most men and women. Routine screening between ages 76-85 is not recommended. [Sources: American Cancer Society; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)]
If necessary, polyps or other types of abnormal tissue can be removed through the scope during a colonoscopy. Tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken during a colonoscopy, as well.
How often: Every 10 years.
How often: Once a year.
According to the American Cancer Society, the following risk factors can increase the risk of getting colorectal cancer:
People with increased and higher risk conditions are not candidates for the FIT test; must be screened with colonoscopy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society recommend the following to help reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer:
3. Maintain a healthy weight. Good nutrition is also primary prevention for many chronic diseases and conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Eat a healthy diet; specifically:
WISEWOMAN Program – DHEC's Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation (WISEWOMAN) provides health screenings and lifestyle education for women who qualify to help reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke.
4. Limit alcoholic beverages.
5. Don't smoke or use tobacco products.
You may be eligible for screening through the Colon Cancer Network.
The Center for Colon Cancer Research
Colon Cancer Network
State Employees and their spouses covered under the State Health Plan (PEBA) may not have to pay for colon screenings.
PEBA Perks has removed a patient's out-of-pocket cost for diagnostic colonoscopies and routine screenings, including the pre-surgical consultation, the generic prep kit, the procedure itself and associated anesthesia. The Standard and Savings Plans follow the age recommendations set by the United States Preventive Services Task Force for routine colonoscopies.
Join the South Carolina Cancer Alliance (SCCA) to become more informed of cancer control activities in South Carolina.
American Cancer Society
128 Stonemark Lane, Columbia, SC 29210