Dr. Heather Bryant, chair of Canada’s Colorectal Cancer Screening Network, hopes women will get over the ‘ick factor’ and take the test; it could save their lives. ‘If we can get the message out to women about screening,’ says Bryant, ‘we can reduce both the incidence and the mortality rate.’
Screening for colorectal cancer involves a fecal occult blood test, which is recommended every year or two for anyone over age 50. (Under-50s normally don’t need screening unless they have a family history of the disease.) The test involves collecting samples from three different bowel movements and sending them to a lab to be checked for blood, which can be an early sign of cancer.
New treatments for colorectal cancer include several chemotherapy agents and a targeted therapy’called bevacizumab (Avastin)’which is designed to interfere with the malignancy process.
Also, earlier this year, researchers at the University of California’Irvine reported on their study of 375 patients who had had at least one colorectal polyp in the last five years. (The polyps can turn into cancer.) Half of the subjects received a placebo; the other half received a small dose of the drug DFMO (difluoromethylornithine) plus a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent called sulindac. The risk of developing another polyp was reduced by 70 percent in the treated group.
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