Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. In spite of that, colon cancer-related deaths are dropping, which is partly attributed to routine colon cancer screenings.
What is A Colon Cancer Screening?
A health screening is defined as a procedure that is used to detect the disease even before it starts causing symptoms. A colon cancer screening is a good option for patients who do not have symptoms, as well as patients who are experiencing symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, rectal bleeding, a feeling of being full, and unexplained weight loss.
Using a colon cancer screening, doctors can detect and remove polyps that have the potential of developing into cancer. Colon cancer screenings can result in the early detection of colon cancer, at a stage where it is still highly treatable.
Colon cancer screenings usually involve a sigmoidoscopy (a procedure to examine the lower part of the colon), colonoscopy (a procedure to examine the entire colon), or a stool-based test. The specific screening most appropriate for you will depend on your health profile and symptoms.
When Should You Get Screened for Colon Cancer?
Recommendations may vary among experts, but the latest recommendations from The American Cancer Society and The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (a panel of experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine) is that men and women of average risk of colon cancer should get regular screenings starting at the age of 45 until the age of 75. Those who are 75 and over who are not considered high-risk and have consistently had negative screenings may decide to no longer continue with regular screenings.
Your risk level is considered by doctors with regard to colon cancer screening recommendations. Patients who are considered high-risk have a personal or family history of colon cancer or precancerous polyps or have a history of radiation treatments to the pelvic area. The American Cancer Society does not have screening guidelines for high-risk patients but states that men and women who are considered high-risk may need to start screenings before the age of 45.
While colon cancer diagnosis rates have dropped among people age 55 and over, the rates are increasing for patients that are younger than 50. A third of people who are encouraged to get screened fail to get it done, which is worrying because colon cancer screening can save lives.
The best way to determine the appropriate time to get a colon cancer screening is to talk to your health care provider. Your doctor will recommend the frequency as well as the best type of screening method based on your medical history and preferences. Together, you and your doctor will decide on what is best for your health.
Schedule Your Colon Cancer Screening Now
At North Shore Gastroenterology, we provide several tests for colon cancer screening. Our experienced professionals will answer and address any questions or concerns you may have about colon cancer and the different methods used to screen for the disease.
To schedule your visit, call (440) 808-1212 or use our online appointment request form. We look forward to helping you to become proactive about your colon health.