Colorectal cancer screening tests are performed to look for a disease even if a person isn’t displaying symptoms. A diagnostic test is used to discover what’s causing symptoms when a person is experiencing them.
Screening for colon cancer is highly recommended after you hit a certain age and is an effective way to help prevent or discover colon cancer.
Most screening tests can find precancerous polyps, which are then removed from the colon before they develop into cancer. Treatment for colon cancer works best when it is discovered early.
Regular colon cancer screening begins at age 45, and several colon cancer screening strategies exist. However, it may be beneficial to be tested before age 45 or more often if you have any of the following increased risk factors:
- Any type of inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Family or personal history of colorectal polyps or colon cancer
- Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer
If you have an increased risk for colon cancer, talk to your doctor about when you should begin screening and which test is right for you.
The best screening test currently available for colorectal cancer is the colonoscopy, and it’s the only screening test available that can detect multiple types of colorectal cancers.
While performing a colonoscopy, the doctor checks for tumors or polyps by looking at the lining of your colon. If there are any polyps discovered during the colonoscopy, they can be immediately removed while you’re under sedation.
Colonoscopies are the most popular form of screening for colorectal cancer and have been performed for many years.
There are many pros of colon cancer screening, especially because many colon cancers can be discovered and prevented with regular screening.
The screening process helps to find precancerous abnormal growths in the rectum or colon (polyps) so the doctor can remove them before they develop into cancer.
The early stages of colorectal cancer don’t usually present symptoms but progress as cancer progresses, so screening can help save lives. It is relatively easy to be screened for colon cancer, so it is a good idea to ask your doctor when you should have your first colonoscopy.
While there are many benefits of screening for colon cancer, there are a few cons. First of all, a colonoscopy may not be able to detect all cancers making it not 100% effective. Another con to the screening is the amount of colonoscopy prep drink that the patient must drink before the procedure to help clear the bowels.
While it does clear you out well, sometimes this can cause severe nausea and vomiting. Another downside is while you’re being screened for colon cancer, you’ll be sedated. Which requires that you have someone drive you, and it does take several hours for the medication to wear off.
If you’ve never been screened for colon cancer, checking with your primary care physician is a good idea. If you have risk factors, are over 45, or have other illnesses that put you at a higher risk of developing colon cancer, it’s better to be screened sooner than later. Contact Dr. Leo to learn more. Call our office to schedule an appointment. Our office is located at 6321 Executive Blvd, Rockville, MD 20852, in the Executive office park.