Get the Facts - Colorectal Cancer is Preventable
It's dirty. That's what many people think. They just don't want to talk about colons or rectums. They should, though. Colorectal cancer is the second most deadly cancer in America, behind lung cancer.
It's also the only cancer that can be almost completely prevented. Here is what you need to know:
This cancer strikes the colon and rectum, which are both parts of the intestines. Almost all cases of colon cancer develop from small growths called polyps on the inside lining of the colon. These polyps start as benign (non-cancerous) growths, but if not removed, about 5-10% will become malignant (cancerous). That's why you must have colorectal screenings, which can identify and remove polyps before they become cancerous.
There are few warning signs:
- Bleeding in stool
- Changes in established bowel habits (time and amount)
- Abdominal pain
Colorectal Screening Options
If colorectal cancer runs in your family or you have any symptoms or discomfort, please call us now to make an appointment. If you are at an average risk for colorectal cancer, The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that you begin colorectal screenings at age 50. Talk to your doctor about which is the best type for you:
- Colonoscopy: A doctor uses a flexible tube with a camera to examine the entire colon. Any potentially pre-cancerous polyps found can be removed during the procedure.
- Fecal occult blood test: A small amount of stool is examined for any hidden (occult) blood. It can be performed at home and sent to a lab for analyzing.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A doctor uses a flexible tube with a camera to examine the lower one-third of the colon, where more than half of all colorectal cancers occur.
- Double-contrast barium enema: This test doesn’t require insertion of a scope into the colon. Instead, patients are given an enema containing barium. X-rays are then taken as air is introduced into the colon.
In addition to providing all screening options, the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology offers a comprehensive genetic counseling clinic that can help determine your risk.