Colon cancer screening is a topic that may seem difficult to talk about, but it is a very important topic when you consider that nearly 1 in 18 people will develop colon cancer during their lifetime. March has been designated colon cancer awareness month with the goal of increasing colon cancer screening rates and offering hope to those diagnosed with the condition.
Any cancer that develops in the large intestine is called colorectal cancer. Being above the age of 50 years is a big risk factor for developing this condition. Other risk factors include having a family member that has been diagnosed with colon cancer or having a history of inflammatory bowel disease.
There are different options for colon cancer screening:
- Stool DNA testing: It is a non-invasive test which requires the patient to send a stool sample to a laboratory. The sample is tested for gene changes often seen in cancer cells.
- Colonoscopy:A flexible tube with a miniature camera is inserted through the rectum to look for cancerous or precancerous lesions within the rectum and the entire colon. You may have to follow a special diet for a day or two to prepare your bowels for the procedure.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy:It is very similar to a colonoscopy, except only a part of the colon and the rectum is examined, and the bowel preparation required is also not as extensive.
- CT colonography:CT scanner is used to take images of the colon and rectum. If suspicious lesions are found on this imaging study, a follow-up colonoscopy may be required.
- Fecal occult blood tests:Your stool sample is tested for microscopic quantities of blood. A positive test may indicate the presence of polyps or cancer.
If you have any of the risk factors for colon cancer, you owe it to yourself & your loved ones to talk to your doctor or a gastroenterologist about undergoing colon cancer screening.
Greater Houston Gastroenterology provides specialized services and treatments for a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions in The Woodlands, Sugar Land, and Spring, Texas.