Colorectal Cancer Archive


Colon cancer screening decisions: What's the best option and when?

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and rates are rising, particularly in younger people. It can be prevented with screening tests; there are several different types of tests that are performed in different ways, and guidelines for when testing should begin and how often people should be tested.

Home screening options for colorectal cancer

There are several at-home screening tests for colorectal cancer. The most accurate are a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and a multitarget stool DNA (mt-sDNA) test (Cologuard), also known as a FIT-DNA test. The FIT test uses antibodies to detect blood in stool, and must be done once a year. The FIT-DNA test can identify DNA from cancer cells in the stool and also has a FIT component to look for blood. This test may be repeated once every three years.

New Harvard tool helps fact-check cancer claims

Scary or misleading claims about things that may cause cancer are so plentiful that it's hard to know which ones to take seriously. A new website developed by experts aims to provide reliable information about whether a particular cancer claim is true.

Can I skip colonoscopies after age 75?

Most people don't benefit from colonoscopies after age 75, but before stopping they should have a discussion with their doctor.

Five hours of weekly exercise linked to fewer cancer cases

A study published online Oct. 4, 2021, by the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that about 46,000 U.S. cancer cases per year can be attributed to getting less than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

A look at health screenings

Men are less likely than women to get regular exams and tests, especially when they are younger. But as they age, routine screenings are essential. There are certain tests most men should have at some point, including ones for colon cancer, high blood pressure, hepatitis C, diabetes, and HIV. Other tests men should consider if they are at high risk for specific ailments, such as abdominal aortic aneurysm, hepatitis B, and lung cancer.

Drinking sugary beverages associated with colon cancer risk

Drinking two or more sugary drinks a day appeared to more than double the risk of colorectal cancer in women.

Battle of the bulges

A majority of people over 60 have diverticulosis, a condition in which tiny bulges (called diverticula) appear in weak areas of your colon’s inner wall. The bulges themselves don’t cause symptoms, but they can lead to bleeding or diverticulitis, which occurs when a diverticulum becomes inflamed or infected. People can reduce their risk by eating more fiber and staying physically active.

New recommendation: Earlier colorectal cancer screening

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends that people begin colon cancer screening at age 45 (instead of 50) and continue through age 75. Some evidence suggests that healthy people older than 75 may also benefit from screening.

Harvard finding: Aspirin tied to reduced colorectal cancer risk

News briefs

Regular aspirin use is associated with a reduced risk for developing colorectal cancer in older age — but you won't get the benefit if you start the therapy too late in life, according to a Harvard study published online Jan. 21, 2021, by JAMA Oncology. Researchers combined the results of two large studies involving a total of more than 94,000 people who answered health questionnaires regularly and were followed for three decades. Compared with people who didn't take aspirin, people ages 70 or older who took either 325 milligrams (mg) or 81 mg of aspirin at least twice per week had a 20% lower risk for developing colorectal cancer — but only if they had started the therapy by age 65. Starting aspirin therapy at or after age 70 was not associated with significant protection against colorectal cancer. The study was observational and does not prove whether aspirin can or cannot ward off colorectal cancer. But other observational studies have also shown an association between aspirin use and lower colorectal cancer risk. Like any medicine, aspirin isn't risk-free: regular use increases the risk for gastrointestinal bleeding. If you happen to be taking aspirin regularly for other reasons, this might be an added benefit.

Image: © Jupiterimages/Getty Images

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