When to Get Screened for Colon and Rectal Cancer
What can you do to keep your colon in optimal health? You are definitely not alone if you are wondering where to start regarding your colon health. Adequate amounts of physical activity, good nutritional habits, and regular health screenings are some of the top ways to maintain your health as you age. Colorectal cancer is among the most commonly diagnosed yet avoidable cancers thanks to the screenings that are available for this health concern. Being proactive with your colorectal health can be as simple as scheduling a consultation at Digestive Health Specialists. Our Kansas City, MO gastroenterologists can help guide you down the path toward maintaining your future health.
Why are colorectal cancer screenings so essential?
As reported by the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer affects about 4% of women and men in the U.S., which equates to approximately 1 in 25 individuals. However, colon cancer can be prevented when diagnosed in the beginning stages.
The majority of colorectal cancers arise as a growth (clump of cells) on the internal lining of the rectum or large intestine (colon). Such growths are known as polyps. It is rare to experience symptoms with polyps, making a colorectal cancer screening important for detecting them. With regular examinations, you can help maintain your GI health by having those polyps removed before they develop into cancer. It is also vital to schedule a screening should you experience one or more of the following:
- Change in the color or consistency of stool
- Pain in the abdomen
- Changes in bowel habits
- Anal bleeding
Why is colorectal cancer such a common disease?
There is no clear answer as to why colon cancer has become more common throughout the years. However, a number of factors could heighten the risk of developing this disease. Staying educated and becoming familiar with the risk factors associated with colorectal cancer can help you stay mindful and make ideal decisions for your health and wellness. A few of the risk factors for colon cancer include:
- A prior history of colorectal cancer
- Genetic history of colorectal cancer
- Being diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease)
- Inadequate amount of exercise
- A diet that includes a large amount of processed meat
- A diet insufficient in fruits and vegetables
- A low-fat and high-fat diet
- Tobacco use
We encourage you to schedule a consultation with a Digestive Health Specialists provider. Our Kansas City, MO team can help you learn more about colon and rectal cancer and how you can take steps toward a healthier future.
How frequently should a person undergo colorectal cancer exams?
You should undergo an initial colon screening when you turn age 45 if you are at standard risk for developing colon or rectal cancer and then every decade thereafter. The chance of developing polyps and colorectal cancer becomes greater as you age. Therefore, the more colon cancer exams you undergo, the sooner a concern can be caught. Upon turning age 75, you will likely need testing dependent upon your overall health status and your GI provider's advisement.
It is essential to understand that having a personal or familial history of polyps or colon cancer places you in the significantly higher risk category. If you fall into this significant high risk group, you will likely need to have a colonoscopy a minimum of once every five years. It is much better to know the condition of your colorectal health than to wonder whether you should request an appointment. A routine assessment for colon cancer, better known as a colonoscopy, will typically take under an hour to complete. This test is an ideal way to determine the current status of your colon health and any modifications you might make to help keep your colon healthy.
Schedule a colon cancer screening in Kansas City, MO today
Colon cancer screenings can help protect your future health and wellness. The American Cancer Society reports that about 144,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed every year. Help reduce that number today by setting up a colon cancer screening at Digestive Health Specialists in Kansas City, MO. If you have questions or concerns about the test or your colon health, we invite you to discuss them with your gastrointestinal specialist during your visit.