Colon Cancer Screening in Kansas City, MO
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What is a screening for colon cancer?
Colorectal cancer is typically one of the more preventable cancers. Your colon and rectum are contained in the large intestine, which absorbs water and some of the nutrients digested from food, and contains waste prior to it being discharged from the body.
Screening for colon cancer is simply checking for polyps and cancer on the inner wall of the colon and rectum when no gastrointestinal symptoms exist. A polyp is a growth that is not cancerous in the colon. However, these may grow into cancer later. Detecting and removing these polyps and any malignant tumors could minimize the risk of issues and/or death due to colorectal cancer.
Our skilled GI physicians often perform colon cancer screenings for Kansas City, MO individuals. To request a screening, contact Digestive Health Specialists.
What are the benefits of a colon cancer screening?
Regular screenings for colon cancer are vital to your general and gastrointestinal health. Some of the advantages of colorectal cancer screenings include:
- Find and remove polyps in the colon and rectum
- Potentially catch colorectal cancer in the earlier stages
- Possibly prevent colon cancer from developing
- Diagnose other colon issues, like IBD
- Can be a life-saving exam
Cancer of the colon or rectum may not present signs or symptoms until it becomes more advanced. Scheduling screenings on a routine basis can help your GI physician identify any issues or conditions as early as possible.
What colon cancer screening options are available?
People should talk to their GI specialist at Digestive Health Specialists regarding when to go to the screening and what tests they should have. One or more of the following tests may be used for a colorectal cancer screening:
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscopy will be used to get a look at the inside of the rectum and lower colon. A finger size thick tube with a camera attached (sigmoidoscope) is inserted through your rectum, so we can get images of the inner wall as well as some of your colon. It can be used for taking a biopsy of the tumor or polyp and for getting rid of some polyps. It is relatively safe but has a slight risk of the bowel tearing, bleeding, and infection.
- Colonoscopy: A colonoscope is like a sigmoidoscope, but it is longer and is used to view the inside of the entire colon. The colonoscope is put in through your rectum and our GI specialist can see the images of the entire colon on our computer system. GI tools may be introduced into the colonoscope to take the biopsy and remove polyps. Sedation is applied. There is a minimal chance of bowel tears, bleeding, or infection due to the procedure.
- Virtual colonoscopy: Virtual colonoscopy is a computed tomography scan of your colon. You will be asked to lie on our table where the CT scanner will take images of the colon. This is a noninvasive technique and does not call for sedation. If any abnormalities are found, a colonoscopy needs to be completed to extract the tumors or polyps.
- Double-contrast barium enema: A little tube is inserted into the rectum and barium sulfate, or a chalky white liquid, and air will be pumped into your colon. The barium suspension lines the outer walls of the colon. X-ray images of the colon will then be taken to show any abnormalities on the inner wall of the colon. If abnormalities are identified, a colonoscopy will be required to remove the tumors or polyps.
- Fecal test: These are completed with a fecal sample and are very safe. Fecal tests may not provide confirmation of but may suggest abnormalities in the GI tract, warranting further tests. A colonoscopy will need to be repeated if positive results are shown, indicating cancerous growths in the colon. Our Kansas City, MO gastroenterologists conduct three different types of fecal tests:
- Stool DNA tests look for specific abnormal DNA genes from the cells shed from a cancerous outgrowth or polyps in your stool sample.
- Fecal immunochemical tests detect blood through a specific immunochemical reaction of protein in the blood and can find nonvisible blood.
- Fecal occult blood tests detect blood in your feces not visible to the eye through a chemical reaction.
Who is at risk for colon cancer?
There are several factors that can put you at a higher risk of developing colon cancer. Some of these factors include:
- Patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- Individuals 45 years of age or over
- Individuals who had colon cancer before
- Patients with immediate family members such as parents, siblings, or children who have or had colon cancer
- People who have familial adenomatous polyposis, a condition where they develop a number of polyps in their colon and rectum
- People with a sedentary lifestyle, bad eating habits, or who smoke
- People with a history of uterine, breast, or ovarian cancer
Book a colon cancer screening today
With routine testing, colorectal cancer is often easy to detect and preventable in its early stages. If you're 45 or older or if you've had other conditions that heighten your chances of colon cancer, you should reserve your colorectal cancer screening. A physician-led group of GI specialists who work with a patient-centered mentality, Digestive Health Specialists utilizes the most innovative technology to maintain digestive health. To schedule a colorectal cancer screening in Kansas City, MO, contact our practice today.
Colon Cancer Screening FAQs
Why are colon cancer screenings important?
Cancer of the colon typically starts from irregular growths in the large intestine (colon) or rectum, known as polyps. During a colonoscopy, these premalignant growths can be removed to help lower the chance of and possibly even prevent the development of colorectal cancer. Periodic screenings for colorectal cancer may also allow your GI provider to detect cancer that is already present. When colorectal cancer is found in the early stages, it may be easier to address.
When should you start having colon cancer screenings?
It is advised that people who are at average risk for developing this disease start periodic screenings for colorectal cancer at age 45. People carrying an increased risk may require earlier screenings. Your GI specialist can help you identify at what age you should begin undergoing colon cancer screenings.
How often should you have a screening for colon cancer?
The frequency with which adults should have colorectal cancer screenings can depend on the type of exam being conducted. In general, adults who are age 45 and older should have a colonoscopy once every decade when they carry an average risk of developing colon cancer and whose colonoscopies return normal results. Those who carry a significantly high risk should undergo colonoscopy exams a minimum of once every five years. For details on how frequently you should undergo a colon cancer screening, please speak with your GI specialist.
What can I do to prep for a colorectal cancer screening?
The preparation for a colorectal cancer screening will depend on the type of screening being performed. When undergoing a colonoscopy screening, specific instructions on how to prepare will be given to you by your gastroenterology team ahead of your scheduled exam to clean out your large intestine. There may also be detailed instructions to follow in the days leading up to your screening. It is imperative to comply with your gastroenterologist's instructions to help ensure they can observe any areas of concern when performing your screening for colorectal cancer.
Dr. Hagan is awesome. I got diagnosed with colon cancer in May 2022. He was so nice and comforting at breaking the news to me. He then recommended a surgeon to get surgery right away. When I went back for my 6 month follow up he wanted to deliver the wonderful news to me himself. No polys, or cancer. Dr. Hagan genuinely cares for his patients.