Detection As a Cure: Colorectal Cancer Screening

Detection as a Cure: Colorectal Cancer Screening

By Karmen Hanson
with Erik Bondurant

Vol . 17, No. 33 / August-September 2009

General Information

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Early detection
and treatment
are critical.

Cancer regularly makes headline news. This year, approximately 1.44 million people will be diagnosed with cancer. Advances in research, detection and treatments provide hope that all cancers will one day be cured and, ultimately, prevented. More than half of all new cancer cases can be prevented or caught early through screening. Finding cancer early usually means it can be treated while still small and less likely to have spread to other parts of the body, making it easier to cure. Although many cancers are detected then treated with a separate procedure, colorectal cancer is different. Early detection and treatment are critical for colorectal cancer, one of the most common in men and women.

Most cancerous tumors of the colon or rectum start as small non-cancerous polyps. Colonoscopies can be both a screening and treatment procedure when polyps are detected and removed during the procedure. Better screening procedures and rates have helped to significantly reduce the likelihood that a diagnosis of colorectal cancer is terminal. When diagnosed at the earliest stage, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent. When the disease is not diagnosed until it has metastasized, however, the five-year survival rate is only 10 percent. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented if everyone age 50 and older were screened regularly.

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