The American Cancer Society recommends that adults start going for colorectal cancer screenings at the age of 45. At this age, the test can be a stool-based test that looks for blood and other signs of colon cancer or a colonoscopy, colonography, or sigmoidoscopy.
After that initial test, screenings should take place at recommended intervals through the age of 75. Between the ages of 76 and 85, screenings may be reduced depending on your dad's medical history. Once he turns 85, these screenings are no longer recommended.
A lot of this comes down to his risk factors. If there is a family history or personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps, he needs to be tested more often. Inflammatory bowel disease and a history of pelvic or abdominal x-rays or scans are others.
Types of Colorectal Cancer Tests
If your dad is still recommended for colorectal cancer screenings, there are three stool-based tests. The guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) and the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) are recommended each year. Both check for blood in the stool. The multi-targeted stool DNA test is recommended every three years and looks for DNA markers that are often seen in polyps or cancerous growths.
Many doctors prefer the precision of the visual tests. If those are recommended, a CT colonography and flexible sigmoidoscopy are given every five years. The CT colonoscopy uses CT scans to create a 3D image of the colon and rectum.
The traditional colonoscopy uses a flexible tube that has a light and camera to examine the entire rectum and colon. It is done every 10 years. A flexible sigmoidoscopy is similar but only looks at the rectum and approximately two feet of the colon.
Visual tests require some preparation. A laxative is used to empty the colon of any fecal matter, which can be uncomfortable. It also will keep your dad at home near his toilet for the day. On the day of the visual test, he may need someone to drive him to and from his scan.
What If You Can't Drive Him?
If you cannot get the day off work or other responsibilities to drive your dad to and from the medical office, you need to make sure someone can. He cannot drive himself if he's undergone any sedative or anesthesia.
An easy solution is to hire a home care aide to escort your dad to his appointment and bring him back home. The caregiver can stay with him to make sure he's okay following the procedure. Arrange transportation services by calling a home care agency.
If you or an aging loved one is considering home care in Ellenton, FL, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers of Bradenton. Call today: (941) 499-5946.