If you are between the ages of 45 and 75, your PCP might recommend you get screened for colon cancer. Of course, you have questions about the procedures available and how your gastroenterologist performs them.
Let’s talk about the basics of colon cancer screening and where you can go in Westlake, OH, for comprehensive care.
Why Colon Cancer Screening Is So Important
The Colorectal Cancer Alliance, the CDC, and the American Cancer Society have agreed that colon cancer is a killer. In fact, it is the third most common cancer among American adults and the second biggest cause of cancer death.
Accordingly, early, routine screening detects the precursor to lower GI malignancies, i.e., the polyp. All colon cancers originate from these small projections from the intestine wall. However, when visualized and removed early in their development, polyps cannot develop into cancer.
Additionally, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance states that GI cancer has a remission rate of 90 percent. The key is detection before cancer spreads beyond its original site. That’s where stool tests and visual inspection of the large bowel come into play.
Risk Factors for Colon Cancer
Besides your age and heredity (colon cancer can run in families), other factors put you at risk for colon cancer and may even indicate you need screening tests before age 45. These risk factors include:
- Lack of physical activity
- Alcohol abuse
- Low-fiber diet
- History of polyps and inflammatory bowel disease
- Being African-American
Types of Screening Tests for Colon Cancer in Westlake, OH
Screening assessments for colon cancer can be categorized into stool tests and visual inspection tests.
Stool tests lab-analyze a feces sample, looking for hidden blood or evidence of abnormal or cancerous DNA. Both kinds of stool tests involve patient collection of samples at home and more frequent assessments. The Gastroenterologist follow-up positive stool tests with colonoscopy to look for the sources of bleeding and/or tumors.
Unfortunately, stool tests can yield false-positive and false-negative results. As such, they can miss some kinds of colon cancer.
Visual tests involve inspection of all or part of the large bowel. The two most common kinds of assessments are the colonoscopy and the sigmoidoscopy.
In a colonoscopy, the gastroenterologist uses a thin, lighted scope equipped with a camera to take images and videos. With the scope, the doctor looks at the interior of the colon and can detect and remove any polyps for later biopsy.
Most patients are sedated for this procedure. Colonoscopy also involves a day of fasting from food and consumption of clear liquids and laxatives to cleanse the bowel.
In sigmoidoscopy, no sedation is required, and bowel preparation is more limited. This 20- to 30-minute test examines the rectum and descending colon. If the physician sees some changes in the lining of the bowel or detects polyps, he or she may recommend follow-up with a colonoscopy.
As with any medical assessment, you and your doctor should discuss what procedure is best for you and your health.
Colon Cancer Screening in Brooklyn and Westlake, OH
At North Shore Gastroenterology & Endoscopy Center, we have 10 physicians on staff who are board-certified in gastroenterology and internal medicine. They are highly skilled in all types of GI assessments, including colon cancer screening.
Please call our office today for a colon cancer screening appointment: (440) 808-1212, or request your appointment by filling out our online form.
These tests are too important to postpone. We look forward to hearing from you soon!