Colon Cancer Screening Description
The best defense against colorectal cancer is regular colonoscopy screening. It is recommended that routine screening begins at age 50, earlier for people at higher risk (such as having a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps). Because the screening allows the gastroenterologist direct visual examination of the inside of the entire colon, a colonoscopy is considered the “gold standard” screening method. Any precancerous polyps found during the screening can be immediately removed, preventing their progression to colorectal cancer.
Most of the time, patients don’t experience symptoms with colon cancer until it is quite advanced. Knowing your family history and whether it puts you at a higher risk of developing cancer is important. Consider these risk factors as you plan to schedule your colon cancer screening:
Personal history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
A strong family history of the disease
Additionally, people may ignore symptoms or changes in their GI health that should be evaluated by a gastroenterologist to rule out serious illness, such as:
- Rectal bleeding/Blood in Stool
- Change in Bowel Habits
- Loss of Appetite
- Unexplained Weight Loss
- Abdominal Pain
If you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment to visit one of our gastroenterology specialists for evaluation.
A colonoscopy allows the doctor to perform a visual examination of the inside of the entire colon. The doctor may take biopsies from the lining of the colon and send them to pathology to determine what is causing symptoms.
If polyps are found, the doctor will remove them and send them to pathology for testing to determine whether they are benign, precancerous or cancerous. That information is needed for an accurate diagnosis and to determine whether further treatment is required and if so, what type of treatment will be effective.
In most cases, the removal of polyps is the only treatment required. Removing polyps stops them from developing into cancer.
If a cancer diagnosis is made, patients will be given instructions to see an oncologist for the appropriate treatment for their type of cancer. Depending on the diagnosis and type and stage of the disease, the oncologist may suggest surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of therapies. Follow-up colonoscopies with your gastroenterologist will be needed to look for new polyps.