OKAY, YOU PROBABLY don’t think much about your colon, but you should, and not just because it’s helpful if you intend to eat and digest food. Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of death due to cancer, but it’s also one of the most preventable types of cancer.
Growths inside the colon or rectum can develop into colorectal cancer. Most polyps are not cancerous, but it’s important to keep tabs on them, starting at age 50. If detected early, colorectal cancer is as much as 90 percent curable, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Staying Preventive and Cancer-Free
Regular are vital to detect colorectal cancer while it can be treated. At Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center, we present patients a variety of screening options, including:
Physical exam. During an examination, your doctor will feel for any hardness in your abdomen. If any lumps are present, further testing may be needed.
Fecal occult blood test. This test examines a stool sample to detect small amounts of blood, which can be sign of colon cancer. If blood is found in your stool, your doctor may advise taking a look inside your intestine to evaluate the cause.
Sigmoidoscopy. One option for examining your colon is this test, which looks at the area of your large intestine near the rectum.
Colonoscopy. The only way to examine your entire colon, colonoscopy is considered the most effective way to search for polyps. Standard procedures now offer patients more convenient prep work and do not require overnight hospitalization.
Your risk for colon cancer increases as you age. At age 50 and every 10 years after that, you need to have a colonoscopy. Talk to your doctor about starting colon screenings earlier if any of these risks apply to you:
have a family history of colon cancer
have a personal history of breast cancer
eat a lot of red meat
have inflammatory bowel disease
are African-American or of Eastern European descent
use of tobacco or alcohol
Every patient has a different medical history and unique health needs, so work with your doctor and find a screening plan that works for you
Signals Your Body Gives
Symptoms often appear after polyps have turned cancerous, so don’t wait for symptoms to have a colonoscopy. But if you experience any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately:
erratic bowel habits
intense vomiting or sickness
routine abdominal pain or intense gas
Need a doctor to help you manage your colon health? Visit summithealthcare.net/find-a-doctor/ to find a provider who can help.