Colon Cancer Screening: What Should You Know About It?

Updated: Apr 22

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the US in both men and women affecting more than 100,000 people per year. It can mainly affect older adults but is also showing its rising incidence in the young age group. When detected early, it can be treated and cured. With the advancements in modern science and treatment procedures, screening helps to find colorectal changes before they turn into cancer in the early stages itself. As per the latest reports, there are over one million colorectal cancer survivors in the United States who have been detected from cancer at an early stage and treated at the right time.


What Is Colon Cancer Screening?

Screening is done to look for cancerous growth before it manifests as a disease. The main objective of conducting the screening test is to reduce the number of people dying from the diseases by helping them get the proper treatment at right time and also to lower the number of people who develop this type of cancer. With the Colon Cancer screening test, the Gastroenterologist can detect cancerous growth at early stages and advise for rigorous and strict screening schedules.

Who Should Get Colon Cancer Screening?

Generally, colon cancer at its initial stage does not show any signs and symptoms. Therefore, it is important that people undergo screening for colon cancer at the age of 50. Colon cancer screening is very crucial for people with the following risk factors:

  • History of chronic Irritable Bowel Syndromes such as Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis

  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or cancerous polyps.

  • Personal history of certain types of cancers such as ovarian or uterine cancer

  • Men after the age of 50 must get a colon cancer screening, as the incidence of getting colorectal cancer is high in men when compared to women

  • Belong to families with uncommon inherited conditions such as Lynch Syndrome, Juvenile Polyposis syndrome, etc


Colon Cancer May Be Diagnosed By Conducting Colonoscopy Or Sigmoidoscopy

Colonoscopy:

A gastroenterologist or surgeon conducts colonoscopy to examine the abnormalities, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or changes in the bowel habits in the large intestine. It is done by inserting a long, flexible tube through the rectum that travels through the colon. If the doctor identifies something abnormal, a small amount of the tissue is brushed and extracted to further investigate through a biopsy. If there are any abnormal growths or polyps, they can be identified and removed with this procedure. For this reason, colonoscopy is considered accurate for the diagnosis and treatment of colon disorders without the need for major surgeries.


Sigmoidoscopy:

Sigmoidoscopy is done by a Gastroenterologist or a surgeon to examine the lower 20inches sigmoid and rectal part of a person. A flexible Sigmoid scope with a tiny video camera at the tip of the tube is inserted into the rectum and checked for cancerous growth or to investigate other signs and symptoms such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, chronic diarrhea, constipation, and other related conditions.


What Are The Expected Results From The Procedure?

  • If the report says “NEGATIVE”, it means there are no signs of any abnormality in the patient’s colon or rectum.

  • If the report results show “POSITIVE”, it means the doctor has detected polyps or other abnormalities. Usually, polyps are non-cancerous, however, some turn into cancer. These polyps when removed are sent for further analysis.

  • If the Polyps detected are cancerous in nature and large in size, then the doctor recommends for surgical removal of the polyps(Polypectomy)

How often Doctor recommends Colon Cancer Screening?

  • If the polyps detected are less than 1cm in diameter, then the gastroenterologist might recommend another colonoscopy in at least 5 to 10 years.

  • If the polyps observed are large in number, then the gastroenterologist might advise colonoscopy in 3 to 5 years.

  • In case, polyps of cancerous type are removed during the colonoscopy, then the doctor advises to undergo screening for every 3 to 6 months or once every year.


Conclusion: Colonoscopy and Sigmoidoscopy are the best-proven methods to detect any abnormalities or to get treated at the early stages of colorectal cancer. Dr.Nancy Lau, MD, is a Board-certified Gastroenterologist by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) who heads JKAN GASTROENTEROLOGY, PLLC NANCY LAU, MD NYC. She is a skilled Endoscopist and clinician who can deal with all aspects of GI disorders, Acid reflux, Colon cancer screening, Upper Endoscopy, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Liver diseases. Book your appointment today with the best Gastroenterologist in NYC.

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