The Importance of Screening for Colon Cancer

Did you know that colon cancer is the third most common form of cancer in the United States? Colon cancer – or colorectal cancer which refers to cancer of the colon or the rectum – is a common killer, and early prevention is crucial. Because both the colon and the rectum are internal organs, problems with these body parts are not commonly recognized until it is too late.

Why is Screening for Colorectal Cancer so Important?

Prevention of colorectal cancer is not difficult if a policy of regular screening is adopted. Screening involves a colonoscopy, in which a tiny video camera is inserted into the rectum and colon. Healthcare professionals will look at the output from the camera and check for precancerous polyps. If found, it is a relatively simple task to remove them. If left untreated, such polyps can turn cancerous. The American Cancer Society is of the opinion that people over the age of 45 should have regular colon and colorectal screenings.

What is Involved During a Colon Cancer Screening?

The point of screening is for a doctor to check your rectum and colon for polyps or tumors. If either is found, they can be removed immediately before they become more dangerous.

As mentioned above, a screening takes place in the form of a colonoscopy. Before this procedure, you will be given medication that will enable you to relax. Some people are so relaxed that they fall asleep and therefore miss the screening. You will also need to fast for around twenty-four hours prior to your procedure so that your bowels are empty.

What Are the Signs of Potential Colorectal Cancer?

If you have any of these symptoms, then it is best that you contact your physician. Having one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have colon cancer, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

  • Changes in bowel habits over a period of a few weeks
  • The sensation that a bowel movement is required even after one has been performed
  • Bleeding from the rectum, blood in stools or dark stools
  • Stomach bloating or abdominal pain
  • Unexplained fatigue or weight loss

Are There Any Risk Factors When it Comes to Colorectal Cancer?

There are a few types of people who are more at risk of developing colon or colorectal cancer than others:

  • Age: People who are over 50 are more likely to develop colon cancer than those under 50.
  • Family: If you have a history of colon cancer in your family, especially if a family member developed colon cancer before they were 60, then you have an increased chance of developing colon cancer.
  • Race: Those of African-American heritage have an elevated risk of developing colon cancer, as do Jewish individuals of eastern European descent.
  • Lifestyle: Being overweight, smoking, drinking, eating a lot of red meat and inactivity all increase the likelihood of you developing colon cancer.

Colon or colorectal cancer is treatable but treatment is more likely to be successful if it is caught early. That is why screening for colon cancer is so important. To learn more about scheduling a colon cancer screening, feel free to reach out to Great Lakes Gastroenterology today at (440) 205-1225.

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