Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - 56

I

f, like millions of Americans, you
are past due for your colorectal
(colon) cancer screening, be sure
2018 is the year to check it off
your to-do list.
You will help the U.S. reach an important goal by year's end: colon cancer
screening for 80 percent of all those
over the age of 50.
Nationwide, about 65 percent have
already had a screening, according to
National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable.
But pushing the needle forward would
save more than 200,000 lives. "If we
can get to 80 percent by December 31,
2018, we can prevent more than 6,600
colon cancers and more than 4,800
colon cancer deaths in Virginia alone by
2030," notes UVA Health System digestive health expert Cynthia Yoshida, MD.
Reaching this goal in Virginia means
more than half a million people need to
be screened.

You Can STAY AT HOME

When most people hear colorectal
cancer screening, they think a day off

work for a colonoscopy. But that's not
the only option. Simple at-home tests
are more accurate at detecting colon
cancer than those available years ago.
"With colon cancer screening, there
are lots of options. Not every patient
is going to want the same thing, so we
need to offer them different things," Dr.
Yoshida says.
As an endoscopic procedure, a colonoscopy requires a day of prep and an
outpatient visit so a doctor can examine
the inside of the large intestine. This
screening usually only needs to be done
every 10 years.
At-home stool tests need to be done
more often. These tests look for blood
or DNA shed by precancerous polyps or
cancerous tumors in the GI tract. "The
newer FIT (fecal immunochemical test)
only detects blood from the lower GI
tract so it is more specific than older
tests that couldn't distinguish between
blood from cancer or another source,
including hemorrhoids or from eating
red meat," Dr. Yoshida explains. "FIT is
not as good as a colonoscopy, but it is

still good enough to detect polyps and
is shown to save lives."
Another stool test, Cologuard®, looks
for blood and DNA. It has been heavily
promoted on TV for its convenience. With
approval from your healthcare provider,
you receive in the mail a stool-collection
packet that you then mail back. "It's a little better at detecting polyps and cancer
than FIT, but it has more false positives,"
Dr. Yoshida says. If any of these stool
tests have a positive result, you will need
to have a follow-up colonoscopy.

Which Screening IS BEST?

"The best screening test is the one
that gets done," Dr. Yoshida emphasizes. "You want people to get screened
so they reap the benefits." She adds,
"Colonoscopy is still considered to be
the gold standard because out of all the
tests, it's the only prevention test. The
others are detection only. Colonoscopy
can prevent colon cancer because the
vast majority of these cancers start
as precancerous polyps that can be
removed during a colonoscopy." â– 

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
You are ready for a colorectal cancer screening if you have reached your 50th birthday
(45th if African-American) and are at average risk for colorectal cancer. You may need one
at a younger age if you have a close relative with colon cancer, so be sure to talk to your
healthcare provider.
People don't get screened for two main reasons, says UVA Health System digestive
health expert Cynthia Yoshida, MD.

People don't believe they are at risk because they don't have any symptoms

or don't have a family history of that type of cancer.

No one tells them to get screened.
The reality is that 1 in 20 Americans will develop colorectal cancer-the No. 2 cancer
killer. "That's a huge number. If you look around a room, someone is going to get colorectal
cancer," Dr. Yoshida says. It's also important to know that colon cancer shows up in many
people who have no symptoms and have no family history of the disease. It is also increasing
in prevalence among those in their 30s and 40s. No one knows why this is, so it's important
to visit your healthcare provider if you notice any blood in your stool, Dr. Yoshida advises.
As part of the 80 percent screened by 2018 initiative, thousands of companies have
pledged to help reach this goal among their own employees. University of Virginia is part
of the effort and is encouraging eligible employees to get screened. Insurance companies
typically cover the cost of colorectal cancer screening.

56

SU M M ER 2 0 1 8

VIDEO

Get It Done
UVA Health System is making it easier than ever to get
screened for colorectal
cancer. We offer colonoscopy procedures in our
UVA Endoscopy Monroe
Lane facility with free, closein parking. See the facility at
uvahealth.com/monroe.


http://www.uvahealth.com/monroe

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