The American Cancer Society reports that 100,000 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed in the United States annually. If you’re over the age of 50, a screening colonoscopy is a must-have.
If you have questions about colon cancer or colonoscopy, it’s important to write them down and ask them when you see a GI doctor. Here are some question examples to get you started.
What’s The Best Age to Start Getting Colonoscopies?
Because colon cancer often develops in people age 50 and older, most
physicians advise scheduling your first colonoscopy at age 45. People who are in good overall health should continue these screenings every 10 years (or as their doctor advises) until at least age 75. For those with a higher risk of colon cancer, colonoscopies should start sooner and take place more frequently. Your GI doctor can tell you when and how often to get colonoscopies based on your risk level.
What Are Polyps? Are They Cancerous?
Polyps, or adenomas, are small, benign growths that may grow anywhere in the GI tract, including the stomach, colon, and rectum. The vast majority of polyps retain their non-cancerous state. However, a small number of them may develop into cancer.All cases of colorectal cancer develop from adenomas.
Your GI specialist searches for and removes any polyps detected duringa colonoscopy and sends them for biopsy. If you have a history of polyps, your doctor may ask you to get a colonoscopy more often than the recommended every 10 years.
Does My Family History Put Me at Risk For Colon Cancer?
The American Cancer Society states that a small percentage of American adults (about 5 percent) carry gene mutations that predispose them to developing colon cancer. Additionally, about one in three individuals who receive a colon cancer diagnosis have family members who have had the disease.
Besides genetics, poor lifestyle habits may increase the chances of developing colon cancer, too. These include poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, and more.
If I Have Colon Cancer, How Will It Be Treated?
Treatment is highly individualized and depends on the stage of your cancer, your age, overall health, and other factors. Surgical interventions are very common, as are radiation and chemotherapy options. Immunotherapy has become more effective and preferred for advanced cancers, and targeted drug therapy often boosts the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
Can Colon Cancer Return After Treatment?
Sadly, about 30 to 40 percent of colon cancer patients develop a recurrence. However, some survivors develop a second cancer, either elsewhere in the digestive tract or in another body system, such as the urinary tract.
Accordingly, colon cancer patients should carefully follow their check-up schedules with their gastroenterologists, PCPs, and oncologists.
Colon Cancer Screening and Treatment in Brooklyn and Westlake, OH
At the NorthShore Gastroenterology & Endoscopy Center, our team of 10 board-certified gastroenterologists are vigilant about cancer screenings, treatments, and follow-ups. If you need a colonoscopy or have questions about colorectal cancer, please contact our team to schedule a consultation. Call us at (440) 808-1212, or request a visit online.