Posts for tag: Colon Cancer
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.