Survey Reveals Majority of Older Americans Do Not Get Regular Screening for Colon Cancer

Although colon cancer is currently the number two killer among cancers in the United States, with some 60,000 Americans expected to die from the disease this year, a recent survey has found that about 75% of Americans between 50 and 70 are not getting regular colon cancer screenings.

The survey was sponsored by EXACT Sciences Corp., a Massachusetts-based company that has developed a new non-invasive screening test for colon cancer.

Despite the American Cancer Society’s recommendation that all 50-year-olds get a colonoscopy, 26% of the 1,200 people surveyed said they had never discussed having colon cancer screening with their doctor and 24% said that since they had
no symptoms of colon cancer, they didn’t get screened. Another 28% admitted that they simply didn’t want to have a colonoscopy.

Many doctors recognize that the subject of colon cancer is an uncomfortable one for most people to discuss as is the colonoscopy procedure itself. Preparation for the test is also problematic since it involves fasting and various unpleasant procedures for cleansing the bowel.

Despite the grave risk colon cancer presents, colonoscopies are simply not the type of procedure that patients are willing to undergo without being prodded by their doctor or spouse.

Most people are unaware that if they have no family history of the disease, a colonoscopy at 50 that examines the entire colon will suffice for 10 years if no problems are found.

The new, non-invasive test marketed by EXACT Sciences Corp. may help the problem since it screens for the disease by looking for cancer-related DNA in the stool. When refuse to have colonoscopies, non-invasive tests are far better than nothing.

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