Am I going to die if I am diagnosed with colon cancer?
Survival is closely linked with the stage of the disease at the time of surgery. When cancers are still localized to the bowel, the 5-year survival rate is very good — about 85-95%. Unfortunately, by the time colon cancer causes advanced symptoms, most cancers have spread beyond the bowel and the survival rate is less than 40%. Screening, therefore, is designed to detect and remove polyps early while they are can be completely removed.
How is colon cancer prevented?
It is now well established that effective colon cancer screening using stool tests, sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy can prevent colon cancer. These screening methods lead to detection and removal of polyps and small cancers that can be easily removed. The use of screening is critical to the prevention of colon cancer.
Is it true that taking aspirin can reduce the risk of colon cancer?
No, a recommendation has not been made by the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology about taking ASA for cancer prevention for the following reasons:
- The evidence of ASA reducing the risk of colon cancer is largely circumstantial. While interesting, there have been no actual trials designed to look at colon cancer reduction with ASA
- There are hazards associated with taking ASA, including bleeding in the intestinal tract, which are typically at par with the reduction of risk of cancer.
People may think that if they are taking ASA as a preventative measure, they may not go for standard screening which should not be missed if you are over 50, have a family history of colon cancer or polyps, or suffer from inflammatory bowel disease. Colon cancer is over 90% preventable if detected early.
What is the difference between a colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy?
The difference between colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy is related to which parts of the colon each can examine. Sigmoidoscopy allows doctors to view only the lower part of the colon, while colonoscopy allows doctors to view both the upper and lower sections. Recent research suggests that colonoscopy is superior to flexible sigmoidoscopy as a colon cancer screening method.