March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and the American Cancer Society encourages Latino men and women 50 and older to make getting tested for colorectal cancer a priority. Colorectal cancer (commonly referred to as colon cancer) can actually be prevented through screening, which allows doctors to find polyps in the colon and remove them before they turn cancerous. Colon cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among Latinos in the United States. It is the second-leading cause of cancer death among Latino men and the third-leading cause of cancer death among Latino women nationwide.
Regularly scheduled cancer screening can save lives. For those seeking assistance visit cancer.org or call 1.800.227.2345 for free information and details about free cancer patient/caregiver support programs. Spanish-speaking cancer specialists are available.
Screening for colon cancer has been proven to reduce deaths from the disease both by decreasing the number of people who are diagnosed with it and by finding a higher proportion of cancers at early, more treatable stages. Colon cancer rates in California have declined rapidly in the last two decades. Incidence rates of colon cancer in California declined significantly for all four major racial/ethnic groups since 1988 ‘«Ű a decrease of 27% among non-Hispanic whites, 18% among African Americans, 14% among Asian/Pacific Islanders and 7% among Hispanics.
"We have an opportunity to significantly reduce death rates from colon cancer among Latinos through regular screening," said Felix Aguilar, MD, American Cancer Society volunteer. "Finding and removing polyps before they become cancerous can help prevent colon cancer altogether. "
Early colon cancer often has no symptoms, which is why testing is so important. Getting tested is especially critical for Americans age 50 and over as more than 90 percent of colon cancer cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50.
The American Cancer Society recommends the following tests to find colon cancer early:
Tests That Detect Precancerous Polyps and Cancer
‘«ů Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or
‘«ů Colonoscopy every 10 years, or
‘«ů Double contrast barium enema (DCBE) every 5 years, or
‘«ů CT colonography (CTC) every 5 years
Tests That Primarily Detect Cancer
‘«ů Annual guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) with high test sensitivity for cancer, or
‘«ů Annual fecal immunochemical test (FIT) with high test sensitivity for cancer, or
‘«ů Stool DNA test (sDNA), with high sensitivity for cancer, interval uncertain.
Because of a greater potential to prevent cancer, the tests that have a higher likelihood of finding both polyps and cancer are preferred if patients are willing to use them and have access.