Colon Cancer Screening in Kansas City, MO

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Colorectal cancer ranks as the third most diagnosed cancer, but it's also among the most preventable. The colon and rectum, which form the large intestine, play a crucial role in absorbing water and nutrients from food and storing waste until it is expelled.

Colon cancer screening involves examining the inner walls of the colon and rectum for polyps and cancerous growths when no symptoms are present. Polyps are noncancerous growths that can potentially turn cancerous. Early detection and removal of these polyps and tumors can prevent complications and save lives.

Digestive Health Specialists's board-certified gastroenterologists perform these screenings regularly and recommend them for everyone starting at age 45. Contact a Digestive Health Specialists office near you to schedule your screening.

What are the benefits of a colon cancer screening?

Routine colon and rectal cancer screenings are essential for maintaining overall and gastrointestinal health. There are various screening methods, such as stool testing, but a colonoscopy is the only preventive strategy for colorectal cancer. The benefits of colorectal cancer screenings include:

  • Detecting colon or rectal cancer at an early stage
  • Identifying and removing polyps in the colon and rectum
  • Potentially preventing the development of colon cancer
  • Acting as a life-saving examination
  • Detecting other gastrointestinal issues like inflammatory bowel disease

Colon cancer often does not exhibit signs or symptoms until it has progressed. Regular screenings help your doctor catch any issues early.

Discussing colon cancer screening with your GI doctor is crucial to determining the appropriate timing and tests. Several tests are available for colon cancer screening, including:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: This procedure uses a sigmoidoscope, a thin, flexible tube with a camera, to view the inside of the rectum and lower colon. The sigmoidoscope is inserted through the rectum, allowing the doctor to see the inner walls on a monitor. It can also be used to take biopsies and remove some polyps. However, a full colonoscopy is necessary to view the entire colon and remove all polyps. While generally safe, there is a small risk of bowel tear, bleeding, and infection.
  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscope is similar to a sigmoidoscope but longer and is used to examine the entire colon. Inserted through the rectum, it allows the doctor to view the colon on a monitor. It can also facilitate biopsies and polyp removal. Sedation is required, and there is a small risk of bowel tears, bleeding, or infection. This procedure is the only colorectal prevention strategy allowing full polyp removal.
  • Virtual colonoscopy: This noninvasive technique uses a CT scanner to take cross-sectional images of the colon. The patient lies on a table, and the scanner captures detailed images. No sedation is needed. A traditional colonoscopy is required to remove polyps or tumors if abnormalities are found.
  • Double-contrast barium enema: A tube is inserted into the rectum to pump barium sulfate and air into the colon. The barium coats the colon's outer walls, and X-ray images are taken to identify abnormalities. If issues are detected, a colonoscopy is needed for polyp or tumor removal.
  • Fecal tests: These tests use fecal samples and are completely safe. While they may not provide confirmatory results, they can indicate gastrointestinal abnormalities that require further testing. A positive result necessitates a colonoscopy to check for cancerous growths. There are three types of fecal tests:
    • Fecal occult blood tests: Detect hidden blood in the feces through a chemical reaction.
    • Fecal immunochemical tests: Identify hidden blood using an immunochemical reaction with a specific blood protein.
    • Stool DNA tests: Look for abnormal DNA from cancerous growths or polyps in the stool.

These screening options are essential tools in the early detection and prevention of colon cancer.

  • Individuals with close family members who have or had colon cancer
  • Those leading a sedentary lifestyle, consuming an unhealthy diet, and smoking
  • Women with a history of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer
  • Individuals aged 45 and older
  • Those who have previously had colon cancer
  • People with chronic conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease
  • Those with inherited familial adenomatous polyposis, a condition causing numerous polyps in the colon and rectum

Routine screenings make detecting and preventing colon cancer in its early stages possible. Those over 45 or with higher risk factors should consider scheduling their colon cancer screenings at their nearest Digestive Health Specialists location. Digestive Health Specialists is a physician-led network of gastroenterologists that prioritizes patient care and uses cutting-edge technology to ensure optimal digestive health. Contact our Kansas City, MO office today to learn more about colon cancer screenings.

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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.

J.P. Google


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