What Senior Citizens Should Know About Colon Cancer Screenings

Colorectal cancers are the second-leading cause of cancer deaths, but a new focus on colon cancer screenings in those over the age of 50 has helped to identify and treat this type of cancer more quickly and effectively. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that seniors citizens over the age of 75 should not be screened for colon cancer. Here, the elder care providers of Avila Home Care discuss what senior citizens of all ages should know about colon cancer screenings.

There are a Variety of Colon Cancer Screening Methods

Several colon cancer screening methods have been approved and are recommended by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), one of several expert medical groups who review preventative treatments. Many of these tests, due to their simple procedure and few-to-no complications, are recommended for senior citizens over the age of 75. The currently recommended tests include:

  • high-sensitivity fecal occult blood tests (FOBT),
  • stool DNA test (FIT-DNA),
  • sigmoidoscopy,
  • standard or optional colonoscopy, or
  • virtual colonoscopy.

FOBT and FIT-DNA tests are both advantageous for older seniors, as they do not require sedation or a colon cleanse prior to the screening. There is also no risk of the colon or rectum being damaged by tools or devices. Seniors should speak to a medical professional to determine which test would be most appropriate for them.

Recommendations to Seniors Over 75 Have Often Been Misinterpreted

A common misconception is that seniors over the age of 75 do not require colon cancer screenings, but this is simply not true. According to the USPSTF guidelines, seniors between the ages of 50 and 75 should receive routine colorectal cancer screenings—this may be every three to five years depending on the individual’s history and type of screening. Individuals over the age of 75 who have received regular screenings with consistently negative results do not need to engage in routine screening; however, many seniors over 75 have never received a colon cancer screening. Healthy seniors over 75 who have never received a colon cancer screening or who have received positive results in the past should have at least one colon cancer screening performed but may require more depending on various health risk factors.

Colon Cancer Screenings May Not Be Beneficial for Some Seniors

A senior citizen in generally good health almost always benefits from colon cancer screenings. However, there are certain senior citizens who may not see benefits from colon cancer screenings, especially above the age of 75. These individuals include those who have:

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),
  • congestive heart failure,
  • severe liver failure,
  • chronic renal failure,
  • dementia,
  • cirrhosis with chronic hepatitis, or
  • AIDS

While rates of complications—even fatal ones—often increase for individuals with these conditions, other factors contribute to a senior’s need for colon cancer screenings. Individuals with these conditions should discuss colon cancer screenings with their doctor, who will be able to explain the negative effects or potential benefits of screenings based on their condition and other factors.

Avila Home Care Supports Preventative Health Practices for Seniors

Seniors can maximize their health—and ability to age in place—with the help of preventative health practices, such as routine colon cancer screenings. The elder care providers support seniors as they take control of their health and are available to assist elderly clients in attending appointments with medical professionals. If you or an elderly loved one is seeking a home care provider who offers personalized and dedicated care, contact Avila Home Care today!

 

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