Posts for tag: Colon Cancer
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colon or colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer that causes death in the U.S. The good news is that colon cancer can be prevented through early screening and prompt treatment.
Here at the Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease Clinic, our gastroenterologists, Dr. Daryl McClendon, Dr. Austin Nelson, and Dr. Jeffrey Molloy, use various colon cancer screening tests to pinpoint precancerous polyps before they become cancer. We offer these tests at our Eagle River and Anchorage, AK, locations. To determine whether you need colon cancer screening, you first need to know what it is.
What Do Colon Cancer Screening Tests Do?
In most cases, colon cancer develops from abnormal precancerous growths or polyps in the rectum or colon. Colon cancer screening tests are capable of finding these precancerous growths so that doctors can remove them prior to them turning into actual cancer. These tests can likewise identify cancer in its earliest stages when treatment will be most effective.
Screening Guidelines for Colorectal Cancer
Approximately 90% of new colon cancer cases occur in individuals who are 50 years old and older. That being said, regular screenings starting at 50 years old is key to colon cancer prevention. According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, adults must be screened for colon cancer at age 50 to 75. For individuals who are between the ages of 76 and 85, they should ask their doctor for specific recommendations. Aside from colonoscopy, the USPSTF also recommends screening tests such as stool tests, CT colonography, and flexible sigmoidoscopy.
When Should I Start Getting Colon Cancer Screenings?
In general, it’s best to start screenings when you turn 50 and continue to receive yearly screenings until you’re 75. However, you might have to be screened earlier than 50 years old if:
- You’ve had colon cancer or colorectal polyps
- You have a close relative with a history of colon cancer
- You suffer from an inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- You have a hereditary disease like non-polyposis colon cancer or familial adenomatous polyposis
If you have an elevated risk of developing colon cancer, talk to our gastroenterologist in our Eagle River or Anchorage, AK, office to find out when to start screening, how often you should be screened, and which screening tests are best for your case.
Concerned About Colon Cancer? Talk to Us
Dial (907) 569-1333 to set your appointment with one of our gastroenterologists, Dr. Daryl McClendon, Dr. Austin Nelson, or Dr. Jeffrey Molloy, here at the Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease Clinic. You can choose between our Eagle River and Anchorage, AK, locations.
One of the most effective screening methods for detecting the earliest signs of colorectal cancer is through a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy allows a gastroenterologist to be able to examine the lining of the rectum and colon (lower intestines) to look for precancerous polyps and other warning signs. These precancerous polyps can also be removed during a colonoscopy before they have the chance to develop into cancer. This is why colon cancer screenings are so important.
Who should get regular colon cancer screenings?
Men and women who are between the ages of 45 and 75 should see their gastroenterologist for regular colon cancer screenings. While there are other methods for screening for colon cancer (e.g. stool test; flexible sigmoidoscopy) a colonoscopy is the most effective and accurate screening tool available.
If a patient has never had polyps or other precancerous warning signs they may not need to get further colorectal cancer screenings after age 75. Patients with risk factors may require additional routine screenings after the age of 75.
Of course sometimes it’s necessary to get a colon cancer screening before 45 years old. You may benefit from getting tested earlier if:
- You or an immediate family member has a history of colorectal polyps or colon cancer
- You’ve been diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease (e.g. Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis)
- You lead an inactive, sedentary lifestyle
- You have a poor diet that is high in fat and low in fiber
- You’ve been diagnosed with diabetes
- You are obese
- You are a heavy alcohol consumer
- You are a smoker
- You’ve undergone radiation therapy to treat cancer
If you have any risk factors it’s important that you talk with your gastroenterologist to find out when you should start getting regular screenings and which screening is right for you based on your health coverage.
What should I expect from a colorectal cancer screening?
As we mentioned, the most common screening tool for colon cancer is a colonoscopy. During this procedure we will insert a thin flexible tube (called an endoscope) into the rectum and gently guide it through the large intestines. At the end of this endoscope is a camera. This camera will allow your GI doctor to look for polyps and other problem. If polyps are found they can be removed during your colonoscopy. If nothing is found during your diagnostic testing, a colonoscopy can take as little as 30 minutes. The patient will be under the effects of conscious sedation throughout the procedure.
Do you have questions about getting a colonoscopy? Is it time to schedule your first routine colon cancer screening? If so, then call your intestinal doctor today.
Protect yourself by knowing the early warning signs of colon cancer.
Colon cancer is a condition that can affect both men and women, which is why everyone should know the risk factors, warning signs, and when to visit our Anchorage, AK, gastroenterologists, Dr. Ronald Boisen, Dr. Daryl McClendon, and Dr. Jeffrey Molloy, for a further evaluation. Regular colon cancer screenings are important as they're the most effective way to detect the disease during its earliest and most easily treatable ages.
What are the symptoms of colon cancer?
The symptoms of colon cancer aren’t always that easy to detect because a lot of the earlier warning signs aren’t exclusive to colon cancer. Some of these warning signs include abdominal cramps and changes in bowel habits (e.g. diarrhea; constipation), which could be caused by many different problems; however, it’s more important to understand when you shouldn’t just ignore these symptoms. Symptoms of colon cancer may include,
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss
- Blood in the stool
- Lower abdominal cramps
- Changes in the appearance of your stools
If in doubt, call our Anchorage, AK, GI doctors to let us know what symptoms you are experiencing. From this, we will be able to gauge whether or not you need to come in for a further evaluation.
Who is at risk for colon cancer?
Both men and women are at risk for colon cancer. While there certainly are risk factors that can increase your chances, many people who are diagnosed with colon cancer don’t have risk factors. Family history will play a role in whether or not you develop colon cancer or polyps.
Along with heredity, if you have a history of inflammatory bowel disease, this can also increase your chances of developing colon cancer. Other risk factors include a sedentary lifestyle, a poor diet, heavy alcohol consumption, and being overweight or obese.
How is colon cancer diagnosed?
The most effective way to diagnose colon cancer is through a colonoscopy. Regardless of whether or not you are experiencing symptoms, once you turn 50 years old, you should start coming in for routine colonoscopies. This is something both men and women need to do. A colonoscopy will allow our gastroenterologist to be able to view the inside of the rectum and colon to look for and remove colon polyps, which could develop into cancer.
Is it time to schedule your first colon cancer screening? Do you want to talk to us about digestive symptoms you are experiencing? If so, we have offices in both Anchorage and Eagle River, AK, to better serve you. Call Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease today at (907) 569-1333.