Have you been having any gut problems? While the cause might be insignificant and treatable with home remedies, it’s always best to be safe, especially if you’re experiencing abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, or blood in your stool.
If you have been experiencing these symptoms for longer than a few weeks, it is best to get a colon cancer screening. The early stages of the disease do not typically exhibit symptoms, but it is best to confirm.
Here are some of the best colon cancer screening methods:
A fecal-based test requires you to submit a sample of stool for lab analysis. The sample is analyzed for the presence of blood or cancer cells. This test is convenient because it can be done from the comfort and privacy of your home and is entirely non-invasive. Your doctor will provide detailed instructions on how to collect, package, and mail the sample to the lab.
The presence of blood or DNA changes is the primary indicator of colon cancer for these tests. However, this may pose a false-positive result, as blood can also indicate non-cancerous issues such as ulcers or hemorrhoids. A positive result will require further testing.
· Guaiac-based Fecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT) The fecal occult blood test is one of the simplest tests to detect colon cancer. This test uses a chemical called guaiac to detect blood within the sample. You can perform this test annually using home test kits.
· Fecal Immunochemical Tests (FIT) Fecal immunochemical tests use antibodies to trace blood in the stool. Similar to gFOBT, you should have this colon cancer screening annually. The FIT has the same method of sampling as gFOBT.
· Stool DNA Tests Stool DNA testing detects changes in DNA. Cells from the colon, including normal cells and cancerous cells, shed into stool, which this test detects. This test can also spot blood. Unlike gFOBT and FIT, you can have stool DNA testing every three years. While stool DNA testing provides greater accuracy than other stool-based tests, it is not as sensitive in detecting cancerous cells as visual tests.
Visual Exams in Colon Cancer Screening
Analyzing stool samples may not be the best option for you if you have a higher risk, such as a family history of colon cancer. Your health provider may recommend a visual colon cancer screening for you instead. Your doctor will use medical devices to look inside your colon to search for polyps.
· Colonoscopy During a colonoscopy, your doctor will insert a flexible, lighted tube with a tiny camera (colonoscope) to see your colon and rectum. Any abnormal growth or polyp can be identified and removed during the test. The procedure takes about 30-60 minutes and should be done every ten years. To prepare for a colonoscopy, you will need to do a bowel prep, so the colon is empty and clean. Your doctor may offer sedation to keep you relaxed during the test.
· Computed Tomographic (CT) Colonography A colonoscopy may not be appealing for some patients, so an alternative, CT colonography, may be more suitable. This is also known as virtual colonoscopy, as it shows images of the colon and rectum. Since these are scanned images from outside the body, they may miss small polyps that are normally detected by standard colonoscopy. Thorough cleansing of the colon is necessary before the test. If polyps are identified, a standard colonoscopy must be performed to remove them.
· Flexible Sigmoidoscopy A sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy but only looks at the rectum and lower colon or sigmoid colon. Your doctor can then identify and remove any polyp or abnormal tissue within the colon. However, larger polyps or polyps in the proximal colon may need a colonoscopy. This colon cancer screening requires bowel prep but not as extensive as a colonoscopy. Patients may not receive sedation during the test.
Colon Cancer Screening in Westlake, Ohio
Colon cancer is dangerous if left undiagnosed. With the many different kinds of colon cancer screenings available, you should be able to find an option you’re comfortable with, so you can get diagnosed and treated immediately. Here in North Shore Gastroenterology & Endoscopy Centers, we offer various services for your health needs.
With offices in Westlake and Brooklyn, Ohio, the friendly staff of North Shore Gastroenterology & Endoscopy Centers is here to help you. If you have questions about your colon health or our services, you can call us at (440) 808-1212. You may also schedule an appointment with our specialists using our secure online appointment request form.