Understanding Colon Cancer Screening

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Why is colon cancer screening recommended?

The single best prevention for colon cancer is the early detection and removal of colon polyps. There are several colon cancer screening methods available. However, colonoscopy is the only test that both detects and prevents cancer. During a colonoscopy, physicians can locate and remove colon polyps before they have the opportunity to develop into colon cancer.

 

Research has confirmed that the single best prevention for colon cancer is the early detection and removal of colon polyps. And the best method for detection and removal is a colonoscopy. For those with at higher risk of colon cancer – such as personal history of colon polyps, cancer, or family history of colon cancer – colonoscopy is the only recommended test.

Why should I get screened for colon cancer?

Screening is the process of looking for cancer or pre-cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease. So, even if you are experiencing no symptoms, it’s critical to follow recommended screening guidelines. It’s one of the most powerful tools for preventing colon cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, when colon cancer is detected early, before it has spread, the 5-year survival rate of a patient is 90%. This means 9 out of 10 people with early-stage cancer survive at least 5 years. But if the cancer has had a chance to spread outside the colon, survival rates are much lower. This is another one of the many reasons why screening is so very important.

When should I get screened?

Most medical guidelines recommend colon cancer screening begins for all average-risk adults starting at age 45. African Americans and those with a family history of colon cancer or polyps should start screening earlier compared to average-risk adults. 

 

Who is at risk for colon cancer?

While there is no specific cause of colon cancer, certain factors can increase the risk of it developing e.g., those with personal history of colon polyps, crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis diagnoses, a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps, a diet rich in fat and red meat, heavy alcohol use, smoking cigarettes, obesity, diabetes, lack of exercise, etc.

 
 
 
 

6 Facts That Could Save Your Life:

1. "Colorectal cancer is predominantly a man’s disease, effecting more men than women annually." -FALSE.

  • The above statement is a common misconception.

  • Colorectal cancer affects an equal number of men and women.

    • Many women, however, think of CRC as a disease only affecting men and might be unaware of important information about screening and preventing colorectal cancer that could save their lives, says the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

2. "Only women over the age of 50 who are currently experiencing some symptoms or problems should be screened for colorectal cancer or polyps." -FALSE.

  • The above statement is a common misconception.

  • Beginning at age 45, all men and women should be screened for colorectal cancer even if they are experiencing no problems or symptoms.

 

3. "A colonoscopy screening exam typically requires an overnight stay in a hospital." -FALSE.

  • The above statement is a common misconception.

  • A colonoscopy screening exam is almost always done on an outpatient basis. A mild sedative is usually given before the procedure and then a flexible, slender tube is inserted into the rectum to look inside the colon. The test is safe and the procedure typically takes less than 45 minutes.

 

4. "Colorectal cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States." -TRUE!

  • After lung cancer, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.

  • Annually, ~150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. and 50,000 people die from the disease.

  • It is estimated that increased awareness and screening would save 30,000+ lives each year.

 

5. "Tests used to screen for colon cancer include digital rectal exam, stool blood test, flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy." -TRUE!

  • All of these tests are used to screen for colorectal cancer even before there are symptoms.

  • A colonoscopy is the most thorough method of all in prevention of colon cancer.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about which test is best for you.

  • Current recommended screening options include:

    • Starting at age 45, men & women should have:

      • An annual occult blood test on spontaneously passed stool (at a minimum);

      • A flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years; or,

      • A complete colonoscopy every 10 years.

6. "Colon cancer is often preventable."-TRUE!

  • Colorectal cancer is highly preventable.

  • Colonoscopy may detect polyps (small growths on the lining of the colon). Removal of these polyps (by biopsy or snare polypectomy) results in a major reduction in the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer in the future.

 

F.Y.I.

The American Cancer Society encourages you to talk with your healthcare provider about colon cancer screening, and its guidelines (effective May 2018) advise everyone (both males & females) - beginning at age 45 - undergo a screening colonoscopy.

 

Colon Cancer Screening Saves Lives

Approximately 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed every year in the United States and nearly 50,000 people die from the disease. It has been estimated that increased awareness and screening would save at least 30,000 lives each year. Colorectal cancer is highly preventable and can be detected by testing even before there are symptoms. The American Cancer Society advises that everyone (both males & females) - beginning at age 45 - undergo a screening colonoscopy

 
 
 
Atlanta Center For Gastroenterology, PC
Phone: 404-296-1986
Hours: Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Fax: 404-296-9890
2665 North Decatur Rd. STE #550
Decatur, GA 30033
________________________________________
Atlanta Endoscopy Center, LTD
Phone: 404-297-5000
Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
2665 North Decatur Rd. STE #545
Decatur, GA 30033
________________________________________
©2019 David Rausher, MD | Gastroenterologist

Atlanta

Endoscopy

Center