How Routine Screenings Can Reduce Your Risk of Colon Cancer
Colorectal cancer, also referred to as colon cancer, is a harmful gastrointestinal (GI) illness and a common cause of death among U.S. citizens. It affects the lower segment of the digestive tract, called the colon, and develops as cells in the intestinal lining form polyps, or benign growths. As time progresses, polyps can turn into malignant tumors, forming colon cancer. Getting colorectal cancer screenings at Adult Gastroenterology Associates is vital to finding indications of colorectal cancer as early as possible and decreasing your likelihood of this serious condition. Arrange an exam with our Tulsa, OK professionals or continue reading to find out more about colon cancer and the importance of colon cancer screenings.
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer
Though colorectal cancer can affect both women and men, it is often observed in older individuals. Apart from age, risk factors for the disease include a poor diet, high alcohol intake, tobacco use, hereditary factors, a personal history of polyps or cancer, and GI problems (such as inflammatory bowel disease), among others. Common signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer in Tulsa, OK patients are:
- Abdominal fullness
- Abnormalities in bowel movements
- Unintended weight loss
- Tiredness or lethargy
- Extreme bloating
- Persistent diarrhea
- Anal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Frequent constipation
There may be no noticeable symptoms of colon cancer in some cases, particularly in the initial stages of the condition. This makes obtaining regular exams from a GI doctor very critical to your complete wellness.
When can I get a colon cancer evaluation?
Screenings for colorectal cancer at Adult Gastroenterology Associates can often detect the issue in the early stages. When precancerous growths are detected during routine screenings, they can generally be eliminated and managed more easily, tremendously reducing the risk of cancer formation. Routine colon tests with a gastrointestinal doctor may also help to prevent the development of colorectal cancer. It is typically suggested that individuals who are not at a higher risk for cancer of the colon start receiving regular colon cancer tests in their mid-to-late 40s.
The rate at which colon cancer evaluations are conducted can vary based on an individual's systemic and other considerations. In general, these colorectal screenings might be suggested on a 5 to 10-year basis. Because personal health factors and risks can vary, your gastrointestinal specialist will inform you of how often you should receive colon cancer screenings.
What kinds of colon cancer screenings are performed?
Screenings for colorectal cancer can offer your gastrointestinal doctor an opportunity to look for signs of polyps or other suspicious growths in the colon and rectum. As GI experts, the doctors at Adult Gastroenterology Associates feature a wide range of colon cancer screening tests, including:
- Double-contrast barium enema procedures: As radiographic procedures, double-contrast barium enemas entail a combination of air and a barium sulfate liquid that covers the outside portion of the large intestine. Radiographic images are then completed to reveal growths, polyps, or other areas of concern within the colon.
- Fecal tests: Performed as a diagnostic service, fecal tests detect the presence of blood in a stool sample that is not apparent to the naked eye. These blood tests can also identify irregular cellular matter and changes in cellular DNA in a fecal culture.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: Flexible sigmoidoscopy relies on a special camera to offer a live view of the inner rectal wall and lower colon. It can be utilized to complete polypectomy procedures or to take a biopsy of an irregular growth. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is generally conducted alongside fecal matter testing to detect occult (hidden) blood in the stool.
- Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy exam involves the use of a flexible scope outfitted with a small camera and is conducted to view the internal area of the whole colon and rectum. Biopsy testing and precancerous polyp excision may be done at that time. Colonoscopy is the gold standard test when it comes to colorectal cancer screening and is the sole screening procedure that provides a view of the entire colon.
- Virtual colonography: Virtual colonography is a noninvasive procedure that relies on computed tomography (CT) scanning techniques to screen the rectum and large intestine for potentially cancerous tissue.
Safeguard your health with colon cancer exams in Tulsa, OK
Receiving routine colon cancer screenings starting at age 45, or as recommended by your doctor, could help detect precancerous tissues in the early stage and reduce your chances for a colon cancer diagnosis. To discover more about protecting your overall health through regular colon cancer screenings, please reach out to our Tulsa, OK providers at Adult Gastroenterology Associates.