HOUSTON (March 11, 2015)

Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital is reminding everyone that March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The hospital, located at 610 and Ella, offers colorectal screening that can easily be set up over the phone or in person.

Colorectal cancer can be a devastating disease but one that can be treated when detected early, and sometimes prevented through regular screening. Of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and in women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Screening tests can find colorectal cancers at an early stage, when treatment is the most successful. These tests can also help prevent some cancers by allowing doctors to find and remove polyps thatmight become cancerous. Screening should begin at age 50, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Being proactive in colorectal screening can be a life-saver,” said Dr. Vijaya Kaila, MD, a colorectal surgeon affiliated with Memorial Hermann Northwest. “Time is of the essence in this matter. The sooner a problem is detected, the sooner a solution can be found. For the screenings that are negative for colorectal complications, at least patients will have peace of mind.”

Your gastroenterologist and colorectal surgeon can evaluate and determine the severity of your condition and provide you with the treatment options available. For more information or a referral to one of these specialists, call 713.222.CARE.

The American Cancer Society recommends the following tests for men and women of average risk.

  • Colonoscopies - done every 10 years, beginning at age 50. This procedure looks inside the rectum and colon for polyps, abnormal areas, or cancer.
  • Stool blood tests - Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT): Annually, beginning at age 50. This test checks stool (solid waste) for blood that can only be seen with a microscope.
  • Barium enema: Every five years, beginning at age 50. This is a series of X-rays of the lower gastrointestinal tract. A liquid that contains barium coats the lower GI tract and X-rays are taken. This procedure is also called a lower GI series.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: Every five years, beginning at age 50. This procedure looks inside the rectum and sigmoid (lower) colon for polyps, abnormal areas, or cancer.
  • Yearly stool blood test plus Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: Every five years, beginning at age 50.

Sometimes there are no symptoms of colorectal cancer in its early stages. However, patients should talk to an affiliated physician at Memorial Hermann Northwest as soon as possible if they notice anything unusual, such as:

  • Change in bowel habits, including constipation, diarrhea or change in stool consistency
  • Blood in the stool
  • Abdominal pain with a bowel movement
  • Persistent cramps, gas, bloating or abdominal pain
  • Feeling that the bowel doesn't empty completely
  • Unexplained weight loss