According to the National Cancer Institute, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. Yet, 90% of colon cancer cases can be cured when found and treated at an early stage, so regular screenings are important.
- Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). A FOBT is used to find occult or hidden blood in feces. A positive test does not always mean cancer is present. The FOBT can miss some cancers, so it should not be solely relied on for colorectal cancer screening. Patients are given a screening kit and instructions on how to take a stool or feces sample at home. The kit is then returned to Silver Cross Hospital for testing. Request a FREE Colon Cancer Screening Kit (FOBT).
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy. A slender, hollow, lighted tube, or sigmoidoscope, is connected to a video camera and inserted into the colon through the rectum and lower part of the colon, known as the sigmoid colon in our Advanced Endoscopy Center. The doctor looks at the inside of the rectum and sigmoid colon for cancer and/or polyps, which are small growths that can become cancerous. If a premalignant polyp is detected during sigmoidoscopy, the patient should have a colonoscopy to screen the remainder of the colon.
- Colonoscopy. The colonoscopy is considered the gold-standard test for finding colon cancer. This is the most thorough exam. A colonoscope is similar to a sigmoidoscope, except the tube is much longer and allows the doctor to see the lining of the entire colon. It is inserted into the rectum while the patient lies on his or her side. In our Advanced Endoscopy Center, patients are given a sedative to make them feel relaxed and sleepy during the screening, which takes 15-30 minutes. Polyps or lesions that are found are usually removed and sent to our Laboratory for examination.
- Double Contrast Barium Enema. This is an X-ray procedure that uses a chalky liquid substance called barium to visualize the interior of the colon and rectum. It is less sensitive than colonoscopy in detecting lesions and polyps and rarely used for screening.
- Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS). Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is a screening technique for high-risk patients with a family history of colon cancer. To perform this minimally invasive endoscopic technique, doctors use a thin, flexible tube equipped with miniature cameras to view tissue in the gastrointestinal tract.
- PET/CT Scan. Positron Emission Tomography–Computed Tomography (PET/CT) is a medical imaging technique using a device which combines a PET scanner and a CT scanner so that images acquired from both devices can be taken sequentially, in the same session, and combined into a single superposed image. The imaging obtained provides physicians with information about the body’s metabolic activity and exact location of disease. The technology also helps physicians monitor patients’ response to treatment to ensure it is working.
Individuals should begin routine screenings, at age 50, as the risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age. Polyps found and removed early during a colonoscopy screening can prevent the formation of colon cancer. This makes screening one of the most critical ways to prevent and treat colon cancer. Some people are at a higher risk and should be screened earlier, including those with a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease, polyps, or ovarian, endometrial or breast cancer. Individuals experiencing symptoms such as rectal bleeding or blood in the stool; change in bowel pattern; bloating; weight loss; and/or abdominal pain should undergo a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer.
It is important for men and women to be screened before age 50 if there is a family history of colon cancer. If you have a first-degree relative (mother, father, sibling) who has been diagnosed with colon cancer, a colonoscopy is recommended every five years beginning at age 40 or 10 years before the youngest age of diagnosis in the family member. Researchers have determined that certain colorectal cancers are known to be caused by inherited gene mutations, or abnormalities. These inherited gene mutations are suspected when several generations of a family have colorectal cancer.
Schedule an Appointment
A physician’s order is required for all screenings except a fecal occult blood test. You can request a Free Colon Cancer Screening Kit (FOBT) online or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).
Your primary doctor can refer you to a physician who performs these tests at Silver Cross Hospital.
If you don’t have a regular physician, you can contact our free Physician Referral Service at 1-888-660-HEAL (4325) or click here. One of our advisors will determine if you’re a candidate for screening, answer your insurance questions, and help set up your appointment with a doctor.
Once you have your order, you can make an appointment by calling (815) 300-7076.
If you are worried about the hospital bill—don’t be. Under the new healthcare reform laws, colon cancer screenings are starting to be covered in full without you having to meet a deductible or pay a co-pay. Same is true if you are on Medicare. Plus there is no additional co-payment if a polyp is discovered and removed. Silver Cross accepts a variety of Health Plans. You may want to check with your physician for any additional costs.