National Colorectal Cancer month is a fitting time to start paying attention to bowel health — especially for adults over 50.
When colorectal cancer is found at an early stage, the five-year relative survival rate is about 90 percent. But only about four in 10 colorectal cancers are detected early, reports American Cancer Society.
Starting at age 50, men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should use one of the screening tests:
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
- Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years
The gold standard in screening is the colonoscopy. Less-invasive screenings exist, but typically, suspicious findings from those screenings require a follow-up colonoscopy.
During a colonoscopy, a doctor uses a flexible, lighted tube with a small camera on the end to view the entire colon and rectum. If polyps are found, they can be removed during the colonoscopy. Typically, patients are asked to follow a special diet before the test. A bowel prep will also be required with the aid of strong laxatives. Most people are sedated during the test. If your test shows no abnormalities, you won’t need another for 10 years.
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Senna: Senna is used on a short-term basis to treat constipation. It also is used to empty the bowels before surgery and certain medical procedures. Senna is in a class of medications called stimulant laxatives. It works by increasing activity of the intestines to cause a bowel movement.
Fleet® Enema: Fleets is a saline laxative that provides reliable relief from occasional constipation without pain or spasm. It works by drawing water into the colon to soften the stool to help produce a bowel movement. It is ideal for bowel cleansing before undergoing a rectal examination.
Milk of Magnesia: Magnesium hydroxide, commonly known by the name Milk of Magnesia, is used on a short-term basis to treat constipation. This medication is also used to treat symptoms caused by too much stomach acid such as heartburn, upset stomach, or indigestion. It is an antacid that works by lowering the amount of acid in the stomach.