Nearly 100,000 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed each year, but the disease can often be caught early and even prevented with appropriate screenings.
What Causes Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer often begins as a polyp, which is a growth of tissue that lines the colon. Most polyps aren’t cancerous, but a certain type has a higher risk of developing into cancer. In general, larger polyps have a greater chance of becoming cancerous.
When it turns into cancer, abnormal cells in the colon divide uncontrollably. They ultimately form a cancerous tumor.
The following may also increase your risk of having colon cancer:
- Inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn’s disease)
- Certain inherited conditions (such as Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis)
- Prior history of colon cancer (especially if diagnosed before age 60)
- Drinking more than four alcoholic beverages in a week
- Family history of a close relative with colon cancer
What Is the Process for a Colon Cancer Screening?
The main way to screen for colon cancer is through a colonoscopy. During the process, you’ll be given a sedative to help you relax and stay comfortable during your screening. You’ll then lie on your back or side, and your doctor will use a colonoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end) to examine any abnormalities in your large intestine.
If your doctor sees something suspicious, small tissue samples can be taken for further analysis (biopsy) and polyps can also be removed.
The procedure itself usually takes about 45 minutes to perform, with additional time for preparation and recovery.
Who Makes a Good Candidate for a Screening?
Men and women who have an average risk of getting colon cancer should start testing at age 50. If you’re at a higher risk of developing colon cancer, your doctor will help you determine when to be tested.
What Are the Benefits of Colon Cancer Screening?
Colon cancer screening is the best way to prevent colon cancer. Almost all cases of colon cancer start as polyps, which may be present for years before cancer develops. Colon cancer screening can help your doctor find and remove these polyps before they become cancerous.
If a polyp has already become cancerous, screening can help detect it early, when treatment has a greater chance of being the most effective.
How Should You Prepare for Your Colonoscopy?
Your doctor will discuss your medical history with you and let you know what you can expect during the screening process.
You’ll need to follow a clear liquid diet the day before your screening and will also take a special liquid to help clean out your colon. This part is extremely important since your doctor will be able to clearly see a clean colon.
What Is the Recovery Process?
You’ll stay in a recovery room for about 30 minutes for observation. When you’re fully awake, your doctor will discuss your test results with you and let you know about any need for follow-up testing.
You may feel some cramping, but this sensation will pass quickly, and you can resume your normal diet immediately after your screening.
If you’re age 50 or older or may be at increased risk for having colon cancer, make an appointment today for to get your colon screened for cancer with Dr. Borcich. His practice utilizes FUSE technology, which provides panoramic images that lead to higher detection rates for precancerous polyps.