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It’s Colon Cancer Awareness Month

photo of Cologuard kit contents

Contents of Cologuard Kit

Each year, thousands across the country join forces to make people more aware of colon cancer, the nation’s second leading cause of cancer deaths. Colon cancer survivors, patients, physicians, and advocates wear the color blue during Colon Cancer Awareness Month every March. Wearing a blue ribbon during the month of March indicates your participation in Colon Cancer Awareness Month. The most important message conveyed during this time is that colorectal cancer screenings can save lives.

Who Is At Risk?

If you are 50 years old or older, it’s time to get your initial colon cancer screening. After your first screening, you need not get tested again for another 10 years if your results were normal. Should any abnormalities be discovered during your screening, you may be asked to return for another exam within five years or less after a biopsy has been taken and tested. Colorectal screenings can detect precancerous polyps that can be removed for examination during a colonoscopy.

If you are under the age of 50, but have certain symptoms, you may need a colorectal screening at a younger age. For instance, if you are seeing blood in your stool, have abdominal pains that do not disappear, or are losing weight without trying to do so, this could be an indication of a need for a type of colon cancer screening test.

Different Types of Screenings

A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows a physician to examine your large intestine using a flexible tube to detect polyps, ulcers, tumors, or spots of inflammation or bleeding. This screening, typically done every 10 years for older adults, involves a 24-hour prep period of staying on a liquid diet and drinking a preparation to completely cleanse out your colon. During this prep period, you may get hungry and will have to move your bowels frequently. A colonoscopy is an excellent method to detect and diagnose abnormalities in the colon and rectum.

Other types of screenings include a virtual colonoscopy and a flexible sigmoidoscopy, both of which require a shorter type of scope inserted partially into the colon.


Cologuard is a simpler, do-it-yourself home kit that is used to help detect precancerous polyps and DNA cell changes that are linked to cancer. The kit is sent to the patient’s home after your physician orders it for you. You use it to collect a stool sample and send it off by mail to the lab in a prepaid, addressed box. The results are then sent to your physician.

If Cologuard test results are abnormal, your doctor may recommend that you get a colonoscopy to rule out cancer and remove any precancerous polyps. This type of home test should be performed every three years, as recommended by the American Cancer Society. There is no need to prep with uncomfortable fasting or laxatives when you use the Cologuard test. Its results are very accurate in detecting blood in bowel movements which may indicate further testing.

If you are concerned about your risk for colon cancer, and you live in North Atlanta areas such as Alpharetta, Roswell, Cumming, Suwanee, Johns Creek, Duluth, or Dawsonville, Dr. Zack Charkawi at Johns Creek Family Medicine can prescribe a Cologuard test kit for your home use. Dr. Charkawi’s practice at Johns Creek Family Medicine is located near the Peachtree Parkway (Highway 141) and McGinnis Ferry Road intersections, directly across from Emory Johns Creek Hospital on Hospital Parkway. He is currently accepting new patients from South Forsyth, Gwinnett and North Fulton counties and the surrounding North Atlanta vicinity.

Please note that this article is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. Please contact the staff at Johns Creek Family Medicine to schedule your appointment.

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