Preventative medicine can be extremely effective. Nowhere is this more apt than when it comes to colon cancer. Colon cancer is very treatable if diagnosed in its early stages. That is why it is important to have regular screenings for colon cancer once you reach a certain age, which in this case is 50 for most people.
The first method our Beverly Hills gastroenterologists utilize to screen for colon cancer would be a stool test to check the bowel movements for blood. The second screening method is a sigmoidoscopy exam, which looks at the lower part of your colon. The third option is a colonoscopy. It is similar to a sigmoidoscopy but with one important difference: the entire colon can be viewed during a colonoscopy making it the definitive colon cancer screening method.
What is a Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is the endoscopic examination of the large intestine and the distal part of the small bowel. It provides a visual diagnosis and grants the opportunity to find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding.
A colonoscopy can be used to:
- Collect tissue samples
- Take out abnormal growths
- Screen test to check for cancer
- Screen test to check for precancerous growths in the colon or rectum
Men and women 50 years old and older should have a colonoscopy every 10 years; however, the risk for colon cancer is greater amongst African Americans, so African American men and women should begin colon cancer screenings at the age of 45. Anyone with a family history of colon cancer should also start having regular colonoscopies at the age of 45.
If you are due for a colonoscopy, call La Peer to schedule your colon cancer screening appointment.
Colon Cancer Facts
Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine, and it develops from growths within the wall of the intestine, such as polyps or tumors. Colon cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States. Thankfully, it is slow growing form of cancer that, if caught early, is very treatable.
Symptoms of colon cancer include:
- Change in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation or change in stool consistency)
- Blood in stools
- Persistent cramps, gas or abdominal pain
- Rectal bleeding
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
Unfortunately, many of these symptoms are not present in the early stages of colon cancer. This underscores the importance of scheduling a regular colonoscopy screening with a GI doctor. Thanks to colonoscopies and other diagnostic screening methods, a gastroenterologist can find the most common symptom of possible early stage colon cancer: polyps.
A polyp is a growth in the large intestines and can be often found during a colonoscopy or upper GI endoscopy. Polyps can vary in size and shape. While not all polyps are cancerous they are typically considered to be pre-cancerous growths because if they are not removed, they can lead to colon cancer. That is why it is so very necessary to schedule a screening with a GI doctor when you reach the at-risk age.
Contact Our Beverly Hills and Los Angeles GI Surgeons
If you are interested in learning more about any of the procedures that are part of the La Peer Health Systems Gastroenterology Department, please contact us. You may also reach us by phone, please call (855) 360-9119 and ask to speak with the Department of Gastroenterology.
For more information please visit our Colonoscopy Center of Excellence website, dedicated 100% to colon cancer screenings!