At-home screenings can help catch colon cancer early

Aug 08, 2022

According to the CDC, colorectal cancer – also known as colon cancer – is the fourth most common cancer found in both men and women, and the fourth most leading cause of cancer-related deaths. 

Fortunately, when caught early, colorectal cancer is easily treatable, often with minimal or no long-term effects.

Last year, the US Preventive Task Force lowered the age to begin routine colorectal cancer screenings from age 50 to 45.

“Colorectal screenings have been so effective, we’re discovering they work even at a younger age,” said North Cascade Family Physicians Dr. Jonathan Ploudré, who also serves as Family Care Network’s Medical Director of Quality.

At Family Care Network, we take health screenings seriously, which is why we recommend an annual at-home colorectal cancer screening test to our patients aged 45 and older.

The Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) kit is a non-invasive test that requires a stool sample. The test looks for hidden blood in the stool, which can be an early sign of cancer.

Joe, an otherwise healthy 62-year-old, was no stranger to the at-home FIT kit and had previously completed and returned several over the years with no abnormal results.

“It’s about as non-invasive as they come,” Joe said. “There’s really no excuse. It takes five minutes. I didn’t hesitate to do it, but the assumption that it was going to come back clean could easily lead someone to not do it.”

Unfortunately for Joe, in late 2021 his FIT kit results came back with unexpected news—an abnormal result. Within weeks, Joe had scheduled a colonoscopy. Three polyps – generally precancerous growths – were discovered in his colon. One was diagnosed as cancer.

“The doctors said, ‘The bad news is you have cancer. The good news is it’s extremely early,’” Joe said.

With one surgery under his belt and another on the horizon, Joe is looking forward to a full recovery. 

“I’m very thankful I did the FIT kit test because without that, I probably would have gone another 15 years without a colonoscopy,” Joe said. “By then, my cancer would have been … who knows what.”

Even when fully recovered, Joe said he will continue to do his annual FIT kit test – and he’d recommend it to anyone he knows too. 

“The bottom line: it’s a super important thing to do because colon cancer is so treatable,” Joe said.  “It’s non-negotiable. If you’re going to take care of your health, you have to do it.”