Last week reading the following headline on Colon cancer test could save thousands in Britain puzzled me. Here are some of the highlights in that news:
- A five-minute colon cancer test could reduce the number of deaths from the disease by about 40 percent.
- In the U.K., government-funded colon cancer screening doesn’t start until age 60.
- In Britain, people aged 60 to 74 are tested every other year with a fecal blood test.
- Experts said the findings could make some authorities reconsider how they look for colon cancer.
- Worldwide, the disease causes 1 million cases and 600,000 deaths every year.
But there are also a few questions that bothered me beyond those headlines.
- Why after 60? I got my first test here when I was 52?
- Was this something to come in the near future with the new health care plan in the U.S.?
The most disturbing statement to me in the whole article, however, is the part that I have marked in bold below:
In the U.S., colonoscopies — 20-minute scans of the entire colon that require sedation — are common, even though no trials have proved they work for cancer screening. Use of the flexi-scope test has plummeted in the U.S. because colonoscopies are perceived as being better.
Wait a moment. Is that true? I then went to check Mayo Clinic websites and found the existing colon cancer screening tests in the U.S., which include:
- Colonoscopy – an exam used to detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine and rectum.
- Fecal occult blood test – a lab test used to check stool samples for hidden (occult) blood.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy – an exam used to evaluate the lower part of the colon.
- DNA stool test – screens stool for DNA mutations, indicating the presence of precancerous polyps or colon cancer.
- Barium enema – a special X-ray used to detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (colon).
While I didn’t find the prove or disprove of the statement that bothered me above, all these searching have reminded me the struggle of Dr. David T.S. Shu in his fights against colon cancer. You can find the summary of the story and his advices in his now famous Letter to Cancer Patients from a neurosurgeon and a 3rd stage colorectal cancer survivor.
Here are 2 more reasons that made me think why do we need to get a colon cancer screening early:
- First the yahoo news that have made me to visit the Mayo Clinic page above. If you go there, you may read the Pros and Cons of each method and you may consult your doctor on which method to pick for your test. But as you may find at the end of the page there, some screening is better than no screening.
- I’m not trying to scare you here, two days ago I attended a funeral service for the Team Lead in the office next door to our operations center. This is not the story about Dr. Shu, who is far away in Taiwan, or a statistic data from the Internet or news story, but I’m talking about someone from our – you and my life, that are being affected by cancer. This is also the very reason why am I here with this blog — To share wellness information with you, one story at a time.