Colorectal cancer (colon cancer) is common. The prognosis (outlook) and the likelihood of cure is much better if the cancer is detected at an early stage and not at a later stage. A screening program operating in the UK for all seniors. The aim is to offer a simple screening test for colorectal cancer when it is at an early stage, before symptoms begin. Some younger people with increased risk of colorectal cancer screening are also offered.
On this page
- What is colorectal cancer?
- What is colorectal cancer?
- The screening test for blood in stool
- Screening with flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Screening for youngsters most at risk
- More help and information
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. When cancer first starts to develop, usually there are no symptoms for several weeks or months. Then, as the cancer progresses, the common initial symptoms include bleeding from the rectum (anus), changes in bowel habits (eg, have prolonged episodes of diarrhea) and anemia that can cause fatigue. (See separate leaflet called colorectal (bowel) cancer for details.)
What is colorectal cancer?
Screening means looking for early signs of a particular disease in otherwise healthy people who have no symptoms and when treatment is likely to be curative. Colorectal cancer screening aims to detect colorectal cancer at an early stage, when there is a good chance that the treatment to cure cancer. There are two methods of colorectal cancer screening:
- A test to detect traces of blood in the stool you – fecal occult blood (FOB) test.
- An examination of the inside of the intestine by a test called flexible sigmoidoscopy.
The first test is now offered routinely in the UK in the relevant age group. The second test may well become routinely offered in the near future. Each is discussed in more detail.
The screening test for blood in stool
What does FOB means testing?
Small (noticeable) amounts of blood in stool are common in people with colorectal cancer. The test consists of testing the faeces (stools or motions) for occult (hidden) blood. This test is to test three samples of your stool for traces of blood.
If you are in the age group (see below), then automatically be sent an invitation and FOB detection kit to test at home. After its first screening test, then send a new invitation and screening kit every two years to reach the maximum age.
The test kit is a simple way for you to collect small samples of stool at home. Although it sounds disgusting and shameful, is surprisingly easy and quick to make. There are clear instructions shipped with the kit. You can get a sample by using a small scraper to scrape off some toilet paper stool just after using the toilet. You will then have to clean very small samples from three different bowel movements on a special card. Then send the card in a hygienically sealed, prepaid envelope to a laboratory for analysis. You will receive your test results by mail within two weeks.
The FOB test can confirm the presence of blood in the stool. However, it is unable to show where the blood is coming from or what the cause of the blood is. Colorectal cancer is a cause of blood in the stool.
Who is invited to FOB screening?
Most colorectal cancers develop in older people. Therefore, the decision has been made by people of a certain age to be invited to participate in the screening program for colorectal cancer programme.The NHS colorectal cancer screening has been introduced in the UK as follows :
- In England, people 60 to 75 are routinely offered screening every two years.
- In Scotland, people between 50 and 74 are routinely offered screening every two years.
- In Wales, people from 60 to 71 are routinely offered screening every two years. The age range may be extended in the future.
- In Northern Ireland, people aged 60 to 69 are routinely offered screening every two years. The age range may be extended in the future.
The test kit automatically the first to arrive in the mail in a few weeks after reaching the age at which screening starts. You can call the relevant helpline (details below) and ask for one if one does not come. If you are over the age established for routine testing, you may still be able to order a kit to test himself. Ring for Helpline for details.
What are the possible outcomes of the screening test?
The FOB test results can be:
- Negative. That is, without the presence of blood. This is the result of about 98 100 people. Routine exams will be offered to you every two years until they reach the age when you stop detection.
- Uncertain. This is the result of about 2 100 people. The FOB test must then be repeated.
- Positive. That is, the blood is to be present. This is the result of about 2 100 people. Here, reference to additional research is usually a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a test which passes a long, thin, flexible tube (colonoscope) through the rectum into the colon (large intestine) to the entire colon and rectum to be seen in detail.
There are several different reasons for colorectal cancer have a positive outcome. For example, some medical conditions, including hemorrhoids (piles) can lead to a positive outcome.
Colorectal cancer screening can also detect polyps (growths) in the inner lining of the intestine. These are not cancers, but may become cancers over time. They can be easily removed, thus reducing the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
After screening colonoscopy after, about 5 out of 10 people who have a colonoscopy will have a normal result, about 4 in 10 were found to have a polyp, which if removed may prevent cancer development, and about 1 in 10 people who were found to have cancer.
Note: A normal result does not rule out completely the possibility of colorectal cancer. It is therefore important to be aware of the symptoms of colon cancer and see your doctor if you are concerned.
Is FOB screening effective?
In this screening has been introduced recently, it is too early to know exactly how effective it will be. However, initial statistics indicate that is saving many lives. One study has shown that around 2,500 lives could be saved each year in the UK due to detection screening with FOB 2025.
Moreover, the figures published in 2009 by the Network of National Cancer Intelligence showed that people with colorectal cancer are diagnosed at an early stage (stage A) has more than 9 in 10 chance of surviving the disease. Until recently (before projection), only 1 in 7 people with colorectal cancer were diagnosed in stage A, because the disease often causes no symptoms at this early stage. Until recently, most cases of colorectal cancer is diagnosed when the illness was more advanced and cause symptoms. The disease is far less likely to be cured in these later stages. With the introduction of the detection, many types of cancer are diagnosed in the early stage when the cure is much more likely to be possible.
Therefore, these figures show how important it is to diagnose the disease as early as possible for the best chance of cure. This is exactly what the colorectal cancer screening is all – to diagnose the disease early to give you the best chance of cure.
Screening with flexible sigmoidoscopy
What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?
The sigmoid colon is the final portion of the colon that joins to the rectum. A flexible sigmoidoscope is a small bendy tube with a light source attached, about the thickness of a pen. The doctor or nurse inserts the sigmoidoscope into the anus and slowly pushed through the rectum into the sigmoid colon and the lower part of the descending colon. This allows the doctor or nurse to see the lining of the rectum, sigmoid colon and the lower part of the descending colon. The procedure is not painful, but can be messy. This test is similar to colonoscopy. However, colonoscopy is a more complex procedure that involves a long, flexible instrument that inspects the entire large intestine and usually requires sedation. Unlike colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy can be done easily without sedation.
What is flexible sigmoidoscopy screening?
It is proposed that a routine test flexible sigmoidoscopy should be offered to all seniors. This is because the majority of intestinal polyps and colorectal cancers develop in the rectum, sigmoid colon, descending colon or lower. Colon (bowel) small polyps are benign (non-cancerous) in the inner lining of the colon or rectum. They are common in older people. I usually do not cause symptoms or problems. However, if a polyp is usually removed. This is because there is a small risk of colon polyp becoming bowel cancer after several years.
The results of a large research study were published in the UK in 2010. The study found that people who had a routine flexible sigmoidoscopy, between the ages of 55 and 64 years had a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer by a third. This was because polyps that were found during testing were removed. In addition, the test can detect colorectal cancer early have not yet caused symptoms.
In October 2010 the Government announced that U-60 million is intended to fund a new program Flexible sigmoidoscopy for people in England over 55 years. Therefore, it is likely that this screening will be available shortly. It is believed that, in combination with the existing FOB test, flexible sigmoidoscopy once around the age of 55-60 could dramatically increase the number of lives saved from colorectal cancer.
Screening for youngsters most at risk
Some people have a higher risk than normal of developing colorectal cancer. This is because some diseases cause an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Similarly, relatives of people with certain diseases have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Therefore, some people are offered regular screening, often from an early age. These groups of people offering screenings include:
- People with certain inherited diseases, including familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), and some other syndromes such as Peutz-Jeghers syndrome and juvenile polyposis. These conditions are very rare.
- Close relatives of people with FAP or HNPCC with.
- People with a family history of first degree relative (mother, father, brother, sister, daughter) who has had colorectal cancer. In particular, if the cancer develops in a close relative under the age of 45.
- People with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease affects the colon or rectum.
- People with acromegaly.
- People who have had one or more colon polyps removed.
- People who have had colorectal cancer in the past.
The age at which screening starts, the type of evidence offered and the frequency of testing depends on the level of increased risk. The various diseases and family associations mentioned above have different levels of risk. Tests may include a routine colonoscopy or some specialized investigations. If you have a family history of disease or causing an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, your doctor will advise you on the type of recommended tests and their frequency. The guidelines (cited at the end) of the British Society of Gastroenterology The may also be of interest.
More help and information
Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme NHS
England – Helpline: 0800 707 6060 Web: www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk / small / index.html Scotland – Helpline: 0800 012 1833 Web: www.bowelscreening.scot.nhs.uk Wales – Customer Service: 0800 294 3370 Web: www .wales.nhs.uk/sites3/home.cfm orgid = 747 Northern Ireland – Helpline: 0800 015 2514 Web: www.cancerscreening.hscni.net / bowel / toc.html
Department of Health
Brochures have called colon cancer screening – the facts and colon cancer screening colonoscopy Research – available in many different languages.
Find them by searching the website of 'detection of colon cancer' – www.dh.gov.uk
Beating Bowel Cancer
Harlequin House, 7 High Street, Teddington TW11 8EE Tel: 08450 719 300 Web: www.beatingbowelcancer.org
Objectives include to increase awareness of the symptoms and promote early diagnosis of bowel cancer.
Bowel Cancer UK
7 Rickett Street, London, SW6 1RU
Tel: 0800 8 40 35 40 (Advisory Service Bowel Cancer) Web: www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk
A charity dedicated to raising awareness of bowel cancer, improving the quality of life of those affected by the disease and, ultimately, reducing deaths from this disease.
Bowel Cancer Wales
Sherwood, Llandraw Woods, Maesycoed, Pontypridd RCT, CF37 1EX
Tel: 01443 408813 Web: www.bowelcancerwales.com
It aims to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for bowel cancer research in Wales.