Colon cancer kills. The American Cancer Society reports that over 50,000 people are expected to die from colon cancer in 2022. Early detection is crucial for colon cancer. Here's what you need to know.
What Is a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a common screening method used to detect colon cancer. It uses a thin, flexible scope to allow doctors to detect, identify, and diagnose any potential issues with the large intestine. While this may seem a bit embarrassing at first, a colonoscopy identifies early signs of colon cancer, giving your doctors time to treat it and giving you a chance at survival. In fact, there are currently over 1.4 million colon cancer survivors in the United States.
Who Needs a Colonoscopy?
The American Cancer Society recommends that anyone over 45 should get checked regularly for colorectal cancer. While this may seem young, even if you don't have any symptoms, it's important to get regular screenings to identify and treat any potential problems as early as possible. Your doctor will recommend the best schedule for how often to screen after your first colonoscopy based on your individual risk factors and lifestyle habits.
What Happens During a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure that involves inserting a long, flexible tube into your rectum to look inside your large intestine. The tube is equipped with a camera that allows your doctor to detect any abnormalities in the lining of your intestines. Specifically, they are looking for any polyps or growths, which are the pre-cancerous beginnings of colon cancer and need to be removed.
When Can You Expect Results?
Your doctor will generally provide results a few weeks after completing the procedure. If anything abnormal was detected during the exam, they might require additional testing, like a biopsy, to determine whether you have cancer or not.
Are There Other Ways to Test for Colon Cancer?
While there are other ways to screen for colon cancer, namely a fecal occult blood test, which looks for blood in a stool sample, it is not as accurate as a colonoscopy. Therefore, if you want to get the most accurate results, you should opt for a colonoscopy.
Colonoscopies are an important part of staying healthy as you age, and it's important to understand how this simple screening can protect you from colon cancer. Talk with your primary care doctor about getting screened so that you can proactively protect yourself against colorectal cancer and other digestive disorders. Regular screenings are one of the best ways to ensure that any issues are caught early when they can still be treated effectively.
Contact a local colonoscopy service, such as Gastro Health, to learn more.