When Should You Get Screened for Colon and Rectal Cancer?


What can we do to keep our colons healthy? You're not alone if you've ever questioned where to start when it comes to maintaining your colon health. Good nutrition, physical activity, and regular health screenings are just a few ways to keep an eye on your health as you age. Colon cancer is one of the most commonly occurring yet preventable cancers thanks to the screenings available for this health concern. Learning about your colorectal health can be as simple as requesting a visit at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants. Our gastroenterologists proudly serve patients throughout Texas and can help guide you down the path toward a healthy future.

Why are colon cancer tests so important?

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer affects the lives of nearly 4% of adults in the U.S., which equates to approximately 1 out of every 25 people. The good news is that colorectal cancer can be prevented when identified in the beginning stages.

Most colon and rectal cancers arise as a growth (collection of cells) on the inner wall of the rectum or colon (large intestine). Such growths are referred to as polyps. It is rare to experience symptoms when you have polyps, meaning a colorectal cancer screening is essential for identifying them. With periodic screenings from our Texas GI team, you can help safeguard your general and digestive health and have polyps removed before they become cancerous. It is also essential to schedule a colon cancer screening if you notice one or more of the following concerns:

What makes colon cancer so common?

Although it's unclear why colorectal cancer has become such a common disease over time, several factors may contribute to its development. Staying informed and becoming familiar with the risk factors associated with this cancer can help you remain observant and make better choices for your future health and wellness. Some of the risk factors for colon and rectal cancer involve:

  • Having inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease)
  • Genetic history of colorectal cancer
  • A personal history of colon or rectal cancer
  • Use of tobacco products
  • Lack of physical activity
  • A diet that includes a high amount of processed meat
  • A diet insufficient in vegetables and fruits
  • A low-fat and high-fat diet

Please request a consultation with a Texas Digestive Disease Consultants gastrointestinal specialist. Our staff can provide further details about colon and rectal cancer and how to take the path toward a healthier future.

How often should you have a colorectal cancer test?

It is recommended that you undergo your first colorectal screening upon turning age 45 if you’re at normal risk for developing colorectal cancer, and every ten years after that. The risk of having polyps and bowel cancer grows with age. Therefore, the more times you undergo a colon cancer test, the quicker a problem is detected. Once you turn 75, you’ll require a test dependent upon your general health and your GI specialist's advisement.

It is important to understand that having a personal or family history of colon cancer or polyps places you in the category of significantly higher risk. If you’re in this significant high risk group, you'll likely need a colonoscopy exam a minimum of once every five years. It's much better to know the status of your colon health rather than wonder if you should arrange a GI appointment. A standard screening for colorectal cancer, or a colonoscopy, typically takes under 60 minutes to complete. This test is a great way to determine your colon's current status and any modifications you can make to keep your colon healthy.

Schedule a colon cancer screening in Texas today

Having regular colon cancer screenings can help protect your future health and wellness. The American Cancer Society reports that around 144,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed on an annual basis. Help reduce that statistic today by arranging for a colon cancer test at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants. If you have concerns or questions about the screening, we invite you to review them with your gastrointestinal specialist during your consultation.