Colon Cancer Screening

COLON CANCER SCREENING

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Approximately one in three people who develop colorectal cancer die of this disease. Luckily, colorectal cancer is highly treatable if detected early. As such, it’s essential for people to start screening colonoscopy at the age of 50 or earlier if there is a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.

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WHAT IS COLORECTAL CANCER?

Colorectal cancer develops in the large intestine (colon) or rectum. Most colon cancers begin as polyps or abnormal growths within the rectum or colon. If these polyps are not removed, they can become cancerous.

When detected in its early phases of growth, colon cancer is highly treatable. In some cases, colorectal cancer will spread to the lymph nodes in the affected area. In these cases, a combination treatment of surgery and chemotherapy is highly effective.

Occasionally, colorectal cancer will spread to the liver, lungs or other areas of the body. Depending on the severity of the cancer, these cases can be more challenging to treat. Fortunately, doctors are conducting research on a consistent basis, which is working to uncover new treatments and provide hope for patients and their families.

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WHY DOES COLON CANCER SCREENING MATTER?

The primary goal of colon cancer screening is to prevent deaths from colon cancer. Screening tests can help identify tumors at an early and potentially curable stage.

Screening can also prevent the development of cancer by identifying and treating abnormal precancerous growths that can be removed before they become cancerous.

Several tests are available, each of which has advantages and disadvantages. The optimal screening test depends on your preferences and your risk of developing colon cancer.

We feel strongly that the colonoscopy is the gold standard exam for colon cancer screening due to both its ability to detect and remove the precursors to colon cancer.

Colon cancer screening image

WHO SHOULD UNDERGO SCREENING?

Adults should undergo colon cancer screening beginning at age 50 or earlier, depending upon their risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Adults who have a family history of colon cancer should be screened earlier than 50 years of age with the exact age depending on various factors.

Approximately 25-30 percent of patients who have a screening colonoscopy have growths in their colon or rectum known as polyps. Many of these growths are felt to be the precursors to colorectal cancer. These growths are removed at the time of the colonoscopy exam and have shown to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Please see the Colonoscopy section for details on the exam itself and the FAQ section for frequently asked questions regarding screening and colonoscopy.

Colon cancer screening image

Patient Education

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