COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - This year, the American Cancer Society updated its guideline for colorectal cancer screening.
The new recommendation says screening should begin at age 45 - instead of age 50. Of course, it’s even sooner if you have any symptoms that warrant a trip to the doctor. The new recommendation from the ACS is still in the process of being examined and has not yet been adopted by insurance companies and others who set the guidelines for screening at this suggested earlier age.
Dr. Frank Berger is the director of the Colon Cancer Research Center at the University of South Carolina. He and others at USC are working on learning more about why the number of young people being diagnosed with colon cancer is increasing. In addition, Dr. Berger and his fellow researchers are digging deeper into the world of microbiomes. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States. That’s why health experts highly encourage regular screening tests. In fact, doctors say at least one third of deaths from this cancer could be avoided.
The signs of colon cancer can include:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
- Rectal bleeding
- Dark stools or blood in the stool
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common, deadly, and yet preventable types of cancer. Dr. Berger and others at the USC Colon Cancer Research Center are advocates for making sure those who can’t afford a screening have an opportunity to get one. “Colorectal cancer screening is vastly underutilized in comparison to other types of cancer screening, particularly among medically underserved individuals.” The purpose of the Colorectal Cancer Screening Program of South Carolina (CCSPSC) is to increase participation in colorectal cancer screening by partnering with health systems to implement priority evidence-based strategies.
The CCSPSC is working with the American Cancer Society, South Carolina Primary Health Care Association, and Colon Cancer Prevention Network. Together, the group works with eight federally qualified health centers in South Carolina in order to reach the medically underserved to implement at least two priority evidence-based approaches (provider assessment and feedback, provider reminders and recall, client/patient reminders), supportive strategies (professional education and small media), and additional activities.
To learn more about the Center for Colon Cancer Research at USC go to https://cccr.sc.edu/.