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March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. In North Dakota, there are more than 400 men and women diagnosed with the disease each year. Colorectal cancer is highly preventable when detected early. If you're over the age of 50, itís important to get screened. If your family history includes colorectal cancer in relatives younger than 50, you may need the screening even earlier.
The Bismarck region of Sanford Health is ahead of the country in the success of colorectal cancer care, with an overall patient survival rate that is 5 percent higher than the national average. Click here to read the 2010 Annual Colorectal Cancer Report.
Health care physicians and advanced practice providers may suggest one or more tests for colorectal cancer screening, including a fecal occult blood test (FOBT); sigmoidoscopy; regular, or standard, colonoscopy; virtual colonoscopy; or double contrast barium enema (DCBE).
A colonoscopy allows the physician to look inside your entire large intestine, from the lowest part, the rectum, all the way up through the colon to the lower end of the small intestine. The procedure allows physicians to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum.
Colorectal cancer at a glance
If youíre over the age of 50, or have a family history of cancer, talk with your primary care physician or advanced practice provider about when to begin screening for colorectal cancer, what tests to have, the benefits and risks (potential harms) of each test and how often to schedule appointments.
Sanford Primary and advanced practice providers