Colon Cancer Screening
All patients are at risk for cancer of the colon and rectum. Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States. It is estimated that the average risk for a person to develop colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20. Many times these cancers arise from growths in the colon that begin not being cancer. With time, however, these growths, also known as polyps, can turn into cancer.
Cancer of the colon frequently has no symptoms. Occasionally your doctor may be able to detect a small amount of blood in your stool with a stool exam (hemoccult testing). Signs of colon cancer could include changes in bowel habits, unexplained constipation or diarrhea, spotting of blood with bowels movements or vague and crampy abdominal discomfort. Unexplained weight loss and increase mucous discharge from the rectum could also suggest something is not right.
The large intestine (as known as the colon) can be screened with a simple procedure known as a colonoscopy. After drinking some fluid that will help to clean out your colon, a narrow tube (colonoscope) is inserted into your rectum and the intestine is carefully looked at. Special instruments can be used to remove polyps or sample different areas of the colon (biopsy). This is done using sedation and is not a painful procedure. You should be able to go home a few hours later and most people resume normal activity the following day.
All patients over the age of 50, men and women, should have their colon screened on a regular basis. If you have a family history of colon cancer or one or more of the above symptoms, you should ask you doctor about scheduling a colonoscopy.
The content on this site is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.