Why is Colon Cancer Screening So Important?

Of all the cancers affecting the population in the United States, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States. Regular

colon cancer screening

beyond the age of 50 is the only way of preventing this cancer. Routine screening can identify cancerous growths called polyps at an early stage and steps can be taken to remove it. The chances of surviving the cancer is greatly improved in that case.

Scientific image of colon

Tests done in Colon Cancer Screening

  • Stool Test:

    Blood in stool could be an indication of polyps, cancerous or not. Sometimes polyps bleed without the blood being visible to the naked eye. Tests like Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) is done to detect the presence of apparently non visible blood in stool. Stool tests called the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) and the stool DNA Test(sDNA) are also done.

  • Sigmoidscopy Exam:

    A flexible scope is inserted in the sigmoid colon through the anus to look for polyps and adenomas(tumors). It just explores the lower part of the colon, the last one thirds of the large intestine. As it does not explore other areas of the intestines, it is not a full proof screening for colon cancer. Sigmoidscopy along with stool tests is a better option.

  • Colorectal ancer


  • Colonoscopy:

    Colonscopy also involves inserting a flexible tube with a fiber optic camera through the anus for viewing the colon as in Sigmoidscopy. The only difference with colonscopy being, that it examines the whole length (four to five feet in length) of the colon. The procedure is done under the influence of mild sedative drugs and a comprehensive view of the entire colon is obtained.

  • Double Contrast Barium enema:

    Also known as DCBE it is a type of x-ray. The doctor inserts a small tube into the rectum and introduces a dose of barium sulfate in to the colon. Barium is a radioactive white, chalky liquid which can point out anomalies on the colon lining by reflecting back the outline of the abnormal growths. The physician also introduces air to get a better visibility.

  • Virtual Colonoscopy:

    It is a medical imaging technique which uses X- rays and computers to make 2-D and 3-D pictures of the colon.

Some important Facts about Colon Cancer Screening

  • People above the age of 50 are at a greater risk of colorectal cancer. Hence, it is important to go for a routine colonoscopy regularly or at the interval the physician suggests.
  • If you have a personal history of hemorrhoids and benign polyps, you are at a higher risk for the said cancer.
  • A personal history of Inflammatory Bowel Disease like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, again makes you a high risk candidate for the cancer.
  • A family history of colorectal cancer and cancerous polyps makes one more susceptible to have inherited a tendency to develop colon polyps.

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