The importance of colorectal cancer screening

April 26, 2018

The American Cancer Society (ACS) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have joined together to form a national movement to increase colorectal screening. Their goal is to have 80% of adults aged 50 and older to be regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2020.

The Swedish Cancer Institute believes this is an important goal to set to improve the health of the individuals in the greater Seattle community. The Cancer Control Committee of Swedish has set our goal to have 80% of adults aged 50 and older to be regularly screened for colorectal cancer by the end of 2018.

The Cancer Control Committee of Swedish 

At the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI), we aim to provide our patients with state-of-the-art treatment and care. In 2016, a team of dedicated oncologists and SCI health care professionals came together to form a Cancer Control Committee. The committee consists of almost 30 SCI officials who work as surgeons, medical oncologists, health education specialists, clinic managers and more. 

The purpose of the Cancer Control Committee is to allow members from all SCI campuses to create an open dialogue for innovative approaches to cancer awareness, prevention, screening and treatment to be introduced. In addition, our committee collaborates with other clinics and cancer control committees in Seattle to allow for the sharing of ideas to improve effectiveness of cancer control and implementation strategies. 

Why colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of a cancer-related death in the United States for men and women. However, colorectal cancer can be prevented or detected at an early stage. At the Swedish Cancer Institute, we have been caring for patients with colorectal cancer from across the region for almost 30 years. Today, Swedish is leading the way as the largest colorectal clinic in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

Screening for colorectal cancer

Prevention of cancer is our number one goal. If cancer is already present, early detection is helpful to prevent cancer from spreading. Screening is an important factor in leading to a cure and saving lives. Our physicians at Swedish have specialized training and expertise in screening and diagnosing colorectal cancer. 

For individuals with no family history of colorectal cancer, we recommend to begin screening at 50 years old. Screening is recommended even when symptoms are not present. 

There are several screening options available, such as colonoscopies, or simple take-home options known as the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) or the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). Please speak with your doctor on the type of screening that is best for you.

 

Description

Frequency

Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy uses a lighted, flexible tool and has the advantage of viewing the complete lining of the colon. Allowing for precancerous growths (polyps) to be identified and potentially removed. This test, is performed while the patient is asleep (sedated) and requires clearing the colon with medicine (laxatives).

If no polyps are found, this test would only need to be done about once every ten years.

FIT &

FOBT

Test

The FIT and FOBT are tests that detect blood proteins (antibodies) or chemical trace amounts of blood in the stool. The FIT and FOBT can both be done at home. Your physician will give you the kit to take home with you along with detailed instructions on how to use. These tests require that the individual collect samples of their stool.

If results come back negative, for no traces of blood, it is recommended to repeat the test one to two times a year.


For more information on colorectal screening, speak with your primary care provider. The Swedish Cancer Institute offers colorectal screening services. If you have questions, concerns or would like to schedule a screening appointment with SCI, please call 1-855-XCANCER (1-855-922-6237).

How are we doing?

As of December 2017, Swedish has reached just over 70% of adults aged 50 and older to be regularly screened for colorectal cancer — meaning we are only 10% away from reaching our goal for 2018! Our plan is to increase our goal to reach 100% of individuals to be regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2020.

We are looking forward to joining community walks, runs, health fairs and other community events during 2018 to further increase awareness of colorectal screening. Keep an eye out for Swedish this year and get screened!

This article is from the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of Life to the Fullest, the newsletter from the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) dedicated to those with cancer, cancer survivors, and their family members and caregivers.

Topics: Cancer, Services