Colon Cancer Screening
Colon Cancer Screening
What are the symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?
The average person‘s risk of developing colon cancer between the ages of 50 and 80 is about six percent, or 1 in 20. However, this risk is significantly increased by factors such as family history of colorectal cancer or other cancers (ovarian, uterine, breast, and other GI cancers), inflamatory bowel disease (ulcerative and Crohn‘s colitis), obesity, and smoking. Colorectal cancer arises when cancer cells form in the lining of the colon or rectum, which make up the large intestine, the last part of the body‘s digestive system. Food enters the stomach and passes through the small bowel, where most absorption of nutrients occurs, before the remainder traverses the large bowel, where excess water is absorbed, ultimately becoming stool which exits the rectum. Colon cancer can occur anywhere in the large bowel or rectum and usually begins as a small growth called a polyp. At first glance, a polyp may seem small and harmless; however, if left untreated, it can cause serious symptoms. Over time polyps can grow larger and eventually lead to colon cancer.
What Is The Screening Process For Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer screening is important because it can detect polyps and cancer in the colon and rectum in their early stages, before they cause any symptoms. This gives us a great window of opportunity to screen, as well as the ability to prevent new polyps from forming. The colonoscope is the most common instrument used for screening. It allows us to find polyps and remove them before they have a chance to develop into cancer. By detecting polyps early, they are usually smaller and their removal becomes easier and safer.
Other detection methods include barium enema and virtual colonoscopy. These x–ray methods of detection involve inserting contrast media, such as barium, through a tube placed into the rectum similar to an enema. These tests are done without sedation and have a lower polyp detection rate than colonoscopy. They also expose the patient to radiation. If a polyp is detected, a colonoscopy will be the next step to remove it. This subjects the patient to a second test.
What Is The Purpose Of A Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is a common colorectal cancer screening method that uses a soft, flexible tube (about the thickness of an index finger) with a light and video lens on the tip. The colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and passed through the large intestine to the small intestine. Air is used to inflate the colon, which allows the doctor to get a better view of all the walls of the colon and rectum and to look for polyps. Instruments can be passed through the colonoscope to remove polyps and take tissue samples (biopsies). Any polyps or tissue that are removed are sent to a pathologist to be examined under a microscope.
What Comes Before and After The Colonoscopy?
To ensure the best chance of finding small polyps, the colon needs to be cleared of stool. This process, referred to as a “colon prep,” generally begins a couple days before the procedure with a low residue diet (avoiding fibrous food, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits), and ends the night before with gentle laxatives. This process is important because if there is stool in the way, the camera will not be able to get a good look at the walls of the colon and rectum, which could result in missed polyps or cancers, and usually necessitates a repeat procedure. An anesthesiologist will administer sedation with intravenous medications before and during the colonoscopy. The medications we use during your procedure will make you sleep, resulting in no memory or feelings of discomfort. Patients who have undergone general anesthesia generally wake up in the recovery room with no recollection of the procedure. “When are we going to start?” Seems to be the most common question patients have after the procedure is complete. Since the sedative used by the anesthesiologist impairs driving ability, arrangements must be made for someone to drive you home.
When Is The Best Time For Me To Have A Colonoscopy?
The American Cancer Society recommends that colon cancer screening should begin at the age of 50. However, recent literature has shown that African–Americans develop larger polyps earlier and, as a result, should start screening at the age of 45. If there is a family history of colon cancer, multiple colon polyps, or related cancers like ovarian or uterine cancer, screening should start at age 40 or 10 years younger than the earliest family member who had that cancer. In addition, obesity and smoking can also increase the risk of colon cancer and polyps.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, but early diagnosis and removal of polyps before they have a chance to turn into cancer can save lives. Colonoscopy is the gold standard in cancer detection, and the only detection mode that allows removal of the polyp at the time of the test. It is also safe and painless when performed by a skilled colonoscopist, thanks to advances in outpatient sedation. Please tell your family and friends about the importance of having a colonoscopy. Don’t accept no for an answer, as there is no excuse for missing a potential colon cancer.
Most of the information on this page can be found at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colon-cancer/in-depth/colon-cancer-screening/art-20046825