In Germany, more than 60,000 people contract colon cancer every year; over 25,000 die of the disease. Early detection could have prevented many such cases – yet in spite of that, only one in every five persons takes advantage of screening. March is colon cancer month and so a good time to present five good reasons for colon cancer screening.
1. Colon cancer is worldwide
Colon cancer is the second highest type of cancer in men and women and one of the most frequent causes of death. More than six percent of all Germans contract the disease during their lifetime. The risk increases with age: 90% of all colon cancer cases occur after the age of 50.
2. Early detection can prevent colon cancer
Virtually no other early detection measure is as effective as colon cancer screening. If detected early, almost all colorectal cancers can be prevented or cured. Because colon cancer usually develops very slowly. Screening can detect polyps, a precursor of the disease, which can be removed before they turn into cancer.
3. Other options besides a colonoscopy
The most reliable method for detecting polyps is a colonoscopy. But there are also stool tests that detect the presence of polyps through hidden (occult) blood in the stool. Whereas the older chemical stool tests (guaiac tests) are less sensitive and specific, the new immunological stool tests (IFOBTs) are a reliable alternative to colonoscopy and recognized as such in the current Early Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines.
4. The examination is straightforward
The immunological stool test makes colorectal cancer screening easy: It requires only a stool specimen, which is taken comfortably at home and then sent to the lab. It is easy for the patient to perform, more convenient than a colonoscopy and does not require special dietary preparation. Yet even a colonoscopy is not as unpleasant as it used to be, thanks to new intestinal cleansing agents and anesthesia options.
5. The insurance company covers the costs
Anyone aged 55 and over with statutory health insurance is entitled to a colonoscopy every ten years. The immunological stools tests were added to the covered services in April 2017 for insureds age 50 and older.