Colon cancer, or colorectal cancer, is a cancer that develops in the large intestine (colon) or the rectum. Colon Cancer screenings have one goal: to prevent deaths from colon cancer. These tests can help to identify cancers at an early and possibly a treatable stage.
All adults over the age of 50 should undergo a colon cancer screening. There are numerous tests that are currently available, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. The test that is right for you depends upon your preferences and your disk of developing colon cancer.
Colorectal cancers usually develop from a precancerous polyp. Polyps are growths that appear from the lining of the colon. They are visible when the bowel is examined by endoscopy (colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy). The colon cancer-screening test works by detecting polyps or early stage cancers followed by removal of the malformation. Regular screenings for removing polyps can reduce the risk of developing colon cancer by up to 90 percent through colonoscopy.
It is important to know the risk factors for colon cancer. Several characteristics increase the risk of colorectal cancer. They include:
- Family History of Colorectal Cancer – If an immediate family member has had colorectal cancer, your chance increases.
- Prior Colorectal Cancer of Polyps – Patients who previously had colorectal cancer have an increased risk of developing a new colorectal cancer. Especially those who had the cancer before the age of 60.
- Increasing Age – The average person has a 5 percent change of developing colon cancer, but 90 percent of these cancers occur in patients older than 50 years of age.
- Lifestyle Factors – There are several habits that can be broke to decrease the risk of developing colon cancer. These bad habits include: A diet high in fat and red meat and low in fiber, an inactive lifestyle, cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and obesity.
Depending on your risk factors, there are many different types of screening tests that can be used for colorectal cancer screenings.
- Colonoscopy – allows a physician to see the lining of the rectum and the entire colon.
- Sigmoidoscopy – allows a physician to directly view the lining of the rectum and the lower part of the colon.
- CT Colonography – a test that uses a CT scanner to take images of the entire bowel.
- Stool Tests – colorectic cancers often release microscopic amounts of blood and abnormal DNA into the stool. Stool tests can reveal blood or irregular DNA makers.
- Fecal Occult Blood Test and Sigmoidoscopy – a combined screening with a fecal occult blood test and sigmoidoscopy. This screening strategy may be more effective than either test done alone.
If your family has a history of colon cancer, or you are over the age of 50, it’s time to give us a call and stay ahead of the game.