Colorectal Cancer Screening
Colorectal cancer occurs when some of the cells that line the colon or the rectum become abnormal and grow out of control. The abnormal growing cells create a tumor, which is the cancer.
Simply put, cancer that begins in the colon is called colon cancer and cancer that begins in the rectum is called rectal cancer. A cancer that affects either of these organs may also be referred to as colorectal cancer.
Colon cancer screenings work by detecting polyps and removing them before they become cancerous. Early detection of cancer that is already present increases the chance of successful treatment and decreases the chance of death from cancer.
Factors that increase the risk of colorectal cancer are:
- Family history of colorectal cancer in a member of your family that is a first degree relative or if the cancer began before age 45.
- Lifestyle factors increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Obesity, alcohol use, cigarette smoking, diet high in fat and red or processed meats and low in fiber. Also a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk.
- Prior polyps before the age of 60 are ones at risk for developing colorectal cancer as well as those who have had a prior history.
- Inflammatory bowel disease.
- Inherited conditions such as Familial adenomatous polyposis is an uncommon inherited condition. Nearly 100% of people who have this condition will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime, most before the age of 65. Hundreds of polyps develop throughout the colon beginning in adolescence.
- Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (lynch syndrome). People with this inherited condition are also at risk for other types of cancer, including ovarian, uterus, stomach, kidney, and bladder.
SIGNS OF COLORECTAL CANCER
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer might not cause symptoms right away, but if it does, it may cause one or more of these symptoms:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by having one
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool, which may make the stool look dark
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
Many of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions and this is not a comprehensive list but if these symptoms exist, a colorectal cancer screening is vital.
COLORECTAL CANCER PREVENTION
While there are many studies dealing with diet and medication, the most important known prevention to colorectal cancer is to have a colorectal cancer screening. Most colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps which are abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. Polyps can exist in the colon for years before invasive cancer develops and they may not cause any symptoms.
Colorectal cancer screenings find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they develop into cancer. In this way, colorectal cancer is prevented.
COLORECTAL CANCER SCREENING
Screening tests are used to help identify cancers at an early stage and at a curable stage. Screening help identify and treat precancerous abnormal growths that can be removed prior to turning malignant. A colonoscopy allows a physician to see the lining of the rectum and the entire colon.
Prior to a colonoscopy the patient will be given a preparation to help clean out the entire colon and rectum. Before the procedure the patient is given a light sedative to help them relax. A thin lighted tube that is used to view the lining of the rectum and the entire colon is inserted into the colon through the rectum so the physician can view the interior of the colon. Polyps and some cancers can be removed during this procedure and biopsies can be taken at this time as well.
Screening should begin at the age of 50, unless there is a family history of colon cancer at an earlier age, or you have an inherited disease that puts you at a higher risk for colorectal cancer. The Rosemark healthcare provider may order a diagnostic colonoscopy if you are having blood in your stools, change in bowel habits, or unexplained abdominal or rectal pain.
Colon screening should be done every 10 years if the first one is normal. If your colon screening is abnormal the patient should follow their provider’s instructions on how often to be screened.
Colorectal cancer can be fatal but with appropriate screening, the cancer can be prevented. If you are 50 years old or older, a colorectal cancer screening is essential to prevention. If you have concerns or you are 50 years or older, call Rosemark for an appointment today! As in most cancers, early detection saves lives!