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Residents urged to get tested for colon cancer

A hard-hitting campaign advising residents to get tested for colon cancer has been launched during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

The public awareness drive uses experiences of Bermuda residents who have been impacted by this disease to demonstrate how early screening can save lives.

Colon cancer is a leading cancer diagnosed in both men and women in Bermuda and a leading cause of cancer-related death. Yet it is largely preventable, according to health officials. Screening finds precancerous polyps which can be removed before they develop into cancer, and detects colorectal cancer early, when treatment is most effective.

The campaign has been devised by the Department of Health in partnership with Well Bermuda partners, Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre and Bermuda Hospitals Board.

The major risk factor for colorectal cancer is increasing age. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 90 percent of all colorectal cancers are diagnosed in people aged 50 and older.

However, some factors that make people at “increased risk” for colorectal cancer include a personal or significant family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome

Lifestyle factors and conditions that may contribute to colon cancer risk include smoking, excess alcohol consumption, obesity and poor diet.

Medical professionals believe that everyone aged 50 and older has at least some risk for developing colorectal cancer, hence the need for screening.

There are several colorectal cancer screening options;

• Take-home stool test, high sensitivity fecal occult blood test that checks for hidden blood in the stool. If you are not high risk this should be done once a year starting at age 50.

• Flexible sigmoidoscopy (test that examines the interior walls of the rectum and part of the colon). If you are not high risk this should be done every five years starting at age 50.

• Colonoscopy (test that examines the interior walls of the rectum and the entire colon). If you are not high risk this should be done every ten years starting at age 50.

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Published March 20, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 20, 2014 at 11:34 pm)

Residents urged to get tested for colon cancer

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