Colon Cancer Screenings: What You Should Know
Colon cancer screening is essential because it is one of the most effective ways for you to reduce your risk of colon cancer. Extensive research shows that regular screenings not only lower the incidence of colon cancer but also the mortality associated with it. By prioritizing colon cancer screening, you can take a proactive step in cancer prevention.
Various screening methods are available, from stool-based tests to visual exams like colonoscopy. Each test has its own frequency and preparation requirements. Here is what you need to know about the two most common screening methods for colon cancer.
Available Colon Cancer Screening Options
Stool-based tests are a non-invasive screening option designed to detect signs of cancer in your stool. They are typically done at home using a kit provided by your doctor. With this type of test, you collect a stool sample and mail it to a laboratory for analysis.
Stool-based tests, while convenient, have certain drawbacks:
- They are less sensitive than other tests, meaning they may miss more cancers or cancerous polyps.
- They do not allow for a direct visualization of the entire colon and rectum.
- They do not allow for immediate removal of polyps, resulting in a treatment delay.
- They need to be done more frequently than other testing options.
- If a problem is discovered, you will need a colonoscopy so your doctor can take a closer look, which may lead to out-of-pocket costs.
While stool tests may be useful in certain situations, they lack the ability to address abnormalities at the moment they’re found. A negative test may not be accurate, meaning you have colon cancer, but you think you’re fine.
Colonoscopy: The Gold Standard
When it comes to thoroughness in colon health screening, colonoscopies are unmatched. They offer a direct view inside your colon, allowing doctors to see everything clearly and immediately address any problems.
During a colonoscopy, a flexible tube with a camera sends pictures to a monitor, allowing your doctor to check for polyps or other changes in your colon. If they find anything unusual, they can remove it or take a biopsy. Finding and eliminating polyps significantly reduces the risk of cancer developing later.
Why Colon Cancer Screening Is Important
Getting screened is a smart way to stay on top of your health. A colonoscopy serves as a colon cancer early warning system. It is a proactive measure, allowing for early intervention when treatment and prevention are simple and more effective.
Who Should Be Screened?
Adults aged 45 and older should start getting regular screening for colon cancer. If you have a family history of the disease or other risk factors, such as a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease or certain genetic syndromes, you may need to start earlier and be screened more often.
If you’re in this category or if you’ve been experiencing symptoms like changes in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, or abdominal pain, it’s essential to talk to your doctor about scheduling a colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy is a key step that could save your life by catching cancer early when it’s most treatable.
Don’t wait! Schedule a colonoscopy today!