The American Cancer Society recommends that adults at average risk for colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. It is estimated that colonoscopy screening has the potential to prevent about 65 percent of colorectal cancer cases. Talk to your primary care doctor about scheduling an appointment for a colonoscopy at UAMS. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, call the UAMS appointment line at 501-686-8000 to make an appointment with one.

Testing can be with either with a sensitive test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool or with an exam that looks at the colon and rectum known as a colonoscopy.

Colonoscopy has many advantages over other colorectal screening tests, including the fact that examines the entire colon and allows for screening, diagnosis and removal of polyps in a single visit. Most people who are in good health are recommended to have colonoscopies every 10 years, unless otherwise recommended by a doctor.

Talk to your doctor about any factors you have that may increase your risk of colon cancer, including family history, previous diagnosis of colon cancer, certain types of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease.

Current Recommendations for the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer

1. Get screened regularly.
2. Maintain a healthy weight throughout life.
3. Adopt a physically active lifestyle.
4. Consume a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant sources; specifically:

  • Choose foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat five or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
  • Choose whole grains in preference to processed (refined) grains.
  • Limit your consumption of processed and red meats.

5. If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption.
Source: American Cancer Society

The Colorectal Cancer Screening Program (CCSP)

The Colorectal Cancer Screening Program (CCSP) is committed to prevention, early detection and treatment of colorectal cancer. The program is designed to provide equitable access to colorectal cancer screenings throughout the state. CCSP targets its services to minorities and people from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds or underserved communities. Participants in need of follow-up are referred to the appropriate services. The purpose of CCSP is to increase colorectal cancer screening rates in the state while decreasing the number of preventable deaths from the disease. For information, call the Health Initiatives and Disparities Screening Program at 501-526-5260.

Colorectal Cancer Act of 2005

Arkansas has one of the country’s highest annual mortality rates from colorectal cancer with an average of just more than 20 deaths per 100,000. That’s compared to the national average of 17 deaths per 100,000. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1,500 Arkansans are diagnosed with colon and rectum cancers each year.

Fortunately, patients whose tumors are detected at an early stage before the disease spreads have an 80 percent to 90 percent chance of surviving for 10 years or more. Colorectal cancer is one of the few diseases that can be prevented through regular screening, by allowing polyps to be removed before they become cancerous.

Breaking down the barriers that placed Arkansas 47th in the nation in the number of cancer screenings is a primary focus of the Colorectal Cancer Act of 2005. The legislation mandates coverage for colorectal cancer screening by defined health care plans and created a pilot program to help uninsured and under-insured Arkansans obtain screening.

UAMS was instrumental in securing passage of the Act.