In the U.S. in 2022 alone, there were 106,180 people diagnosed with new cases of colorectal cancer. When this cancer is caught early, the five-year survival rate is 91 percent. Once it spreads regionally or distantly, this figure decreases. This is why our doctors of Alaska Digestive & Liver Disease, serving Anchorage, Eagle River AK, and the surrounding areas, recommend routine colon cancer screenings. Let's talk about what you can expect.
The first, and less invasive option, for a colon cancer screening is a fecal immunochemical test (FIT). During this particular test, a practitioner from our office, serving Anchorage, Wasilla, Palmer & Mat-Su Valley, AK, and the general vicinity, will ask for a stool sample. It's then sent to the lab to look for any blood that could indicate a potential case of cancer. We can also take a sample of your stool and check for DNA changes on a cellular level that could mean cancer.
For this test, you complete the test at home and return the sample to our office. We'll do the rest of the work.
This test requires you to prepare by switching to a clear liquid diet. You'll need to refrain from eating solids as well for a specific period of time. You'll also need to drink a laxative solution to clean out your colon before the test. At this point, we'll also educate you about any medications you should avoid before the test, such as non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and blood thinners.
During the test, a practitioner with inserts a long, flexible tube into your rectum. At the end of it is a camera that your doctor will be able to use to look inside your colon for polyps. The test usually lasts between 30 and 60 minutes, and you'll take a sedative before it so you remain comfortable.
You'll need to wait a short time after the procedure so we can monitor you for any potential complications and ensure the sedative is wearing off properly. You'll need to have someone drive you home because you'll be groggy due to the sedative.
You may feel a bit bloated and gassy after a colonoscopy. Sometimes, a small amount of blood will be present in your first bowel movement after the procedure, and it's usually normal.
Alaska Digestive & Liver Disease, serving Anchorage, Eagle River AK, and the surrounding areas, has a team of doctors who can perform a colon cancer screening if you need one.