March National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States (after lung cancer). March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so it's a good time to learn more about colorectal cancer and how it can be prevented or best treated.
According to the American Cancer Society, almost 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed and approximately 50,000 people died from the disease last year. Despite these statistics, unlike some cancers, colorectal cancer is highly preventable and can be detected early through proper screening.
Screening is recommended in both sexes over age 50 and earlier if a patient has a family history of this disease. However, some people put it off due to fear of having a colonoscopy, which can be both invasive and expensive. As more people lose health insurance coverage, the high cost of this procedure may lead many more people to forego screening.
Sanford Markowitz, MD, CWRUmedicine oncologist and colon cancer researcher of the University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, has developed a less expensive, non-invasive test for this disease.
About the test:
- The non-invasive test detects DNA markers for colon cancer using a stool sample that is taken at home
- The DNA Stool Test is available now at the doctor’s office, or can be easily ordered by the doctor
- Although the test isn't covered by insurance, the cost is significantly lower
- Patients with negative results will not need to commit time and money to having a colonoscopy; patients with positive results will move forward with colonoscopy to provide more information
- It is 80 percent effective and while colonoscopy is still the most effective test, it is not useful if patients are avoiding it altogether
- The American Cancer Society added the test to its screening guidelines last year