What Should I Know About Colon Cancer and Preventive Screenings?
Commonly known as colon cancer, colorectal cancer is a serious gastrointestinal (GI) disease and a leading cause of death for U.S. citizens. This condition affects the last part of the digestive tract, the colon, and develops when cells in the lining of the large intestine form polyps, or benign growths. Over time, polyps can become cancerous tumors, forming cancer of the colon. Receiving colorectal cancer screenings at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants is vital to identifying signs of colorectal cancer as soon as possible and decreasing your likelihood of developing this health concern. Set up an exam with our Texas gastrointestinal professionals as soon as you can or keep reading to discover more about colon cancer and its symptoms.
Signs of colon cancer
While colon cancer impacts both men and women, it often arises in older adults. Besides age, risk factors for colorectal cancer consist of genetics, a personal history of polyps or another form of cancer, GI problems (including inflammatory bowel disease), an unhealthy diet, severe alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and more. Some of the more common signs of colorectal cancer in Texas individuals include:
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal fullness
- Constant constipation
- Abdominal discomfort
- Excessive gas
- Changes in bowel habits
- Severe diarrhea
- Unexplained weight loss
There may be no notable symptoms of colon cancer in some people, particularly in the early phases. This makes getting routine colorectal cancer assessments from a GI physician highly critical to your total wellness.
When do I need a colorectal cancer screening?
Screenings for colorectal cancer at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants can generally detect the issue in the beginning stages. As precancerous polyps are found, they can usually be removed and treated more easily, significantly reducing the chances of cancer forming. Routine colon tests with a GI doctor may even ward off the formation of colon cancer. Usually, it is recommended that patients who are not at a heightened risk for colorectal cancer start having routine colon cancer screenings between the ages of 45 – 50.
The frequency at which these screenings are recommended is determined according to individual wellness and other factors. In many cases, screenings for colorectal cancer are recommended at 5 to 10-year intervals. Since personal health conditions and risks may vary, a gastrointestinal physician can go over how often colorectal cancer screenings should be completed.
What forms of colon cancer assessments are available?
Screenings for colorectal cancer offer GI specialists the opportunity to look for evidence of polyps or suspicious tumors in the colon and rectum. The gastroenterology professionals at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants perform an impressive range of colon cancer screening diagnostics, such as:
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: This treatment utilizes a small camera to produce a real-time image of the internal rectal wall and lower portion of the colon. It can be used when removing polyps or when performing a biopsy of a concerning growth. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is typically carried out with fecal testing to check for any indication of blood that may be present in the stool.
- Double-contrast barium enema procedures: As radiographic procedures, double-contrast barium enemas are injected into the colon and contain a mixture of air and a barium sulfate liquid that adheres to the outside wall of the large intestine. X-rays are then captured to show polyps, lesions, or additional suspicious areas within the colon.
- Fecal tests: Performed as a diagnostic service, fecal tests detect the presence of blood in fecal matter that is not visible to the human eye. These tests can also function to identify irregular cellular matter and indications of cellular DNA changes in a fecal culture.
- Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy procedure is carried out with a long, tube-like scope fitted with a miniature video camera and is performed to observe the interior wall of the whole colon. Tissue biopsies and the removal of precancerous polyps may be completed during the exam. Colonoscopy is considered the gold standard test for colon cancer screening and is the sole screening procedure that evaluates the entire colon.
- Virtual colonography: Virtual colonography is a noninvasive procedure that utilizes computed tomography (CT) scanning technology to screen the rectum and colon for abnormal tissue.
Protect your GI health with colorectal cancer screenings in Texas
Having regular colon cancer screenings starting at age 45, or as suggested by your specialist, can help identify precancerous tumors promptly and reduce the risk of a cancer diagnosis. If you would like to find out more about the best way to defend your overall health through colon cancer screenings, please call our Texas staff at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants.