Colorectal cancer curable if caught early: Regular screening helps detect early signs

  • Published
  • By Capt. Joaquina Fontes-Lopes
  • 90th Medical Group health care integrator
March 2014 is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. To promote and protect the health of our beneficiaries, the 90th Medical Group encourages all men and women 50 years and older to get a colorectal cancer screening this month.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States each year for men and women combined. More lives are lost each year in the U.S. to colorectal cancer than to breast cancer and AIDS combined. Fortunately, 90 percent of colorectal cancer is curable if caught early.

At age 50, men and women should begin routine colorectal cancer screenings. One in four people in that age group have polyps, which can be colorectal cancer precursors. Screening for colorectal cancers prevents cancers from developing by treating pre-cancerous conditions. This screening is important because in the early stages of colorectal cancer, there may be no symptoms.

There are two different tests to screen for polyps/colorectal cancer:

· Colonoscopy: This screening method, which should be repeated every 10 years, gives physicians a full internal view of the entire colon, or large intestine. For F.E. Warren personnel, it must be completed off base by a specialist. This is the best screen for colon cancer, as a doctor is able to actually look inside the colon through a scope for any signs of polyps or cancer. To request a referral for this procedure, contact the Appointment Line at 773-3461 option 1 or visit to use MiCare.

· Stool occult blood testing: This test can be completed at home with a small stool sample. This test only looks for blood in the stool, not polyps themselves, so it is not as accurate and needs to be done more often, every 12 months. If interested, stop by the 90th Medical Group Laboratory to pick up a cup.
You do not need an appointment with your on-base provider unless you are currently experiencing any concerns regarding your health.

If you have already completed a colonoscopy or other screening off base, please contact Capt. Fontes-Lopes at 773-4080 or use MiCare to update your medical record.