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Colon Cancer Screenings: Why You Need Them

Colon cancer affects nearly 100,000 Americans each year and is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The good news is — it’s highly treatable.

Colon cancer screenings are important for your health

Cancer of the colon is highly treatable if it is diagnosed early and remains localized in the bowel. In fact, with regular colon cancer screenings, you can significantly reduce your risk of advanced stages of colon cancer. Regular health screens give your doctors the opportunity to prevent colon cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they become cancerous. Early detection is essential for treating many diseases and conditions, including colon cancer.

If you have a first-degree family member (e.g., parent, sibling or child) with colon cancer, you are about two to three times more likely to develop cancer than those without a family history. It’s important to get tested regularly to stop cancer in its tracks.

Tests that can find both colorectal polyps and cancer

The following tests, as well as others, can be used when people have symptoms of colorectal cancer or other diseases like inflammatory bowel disease.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy

Although this test is not commonly used to detect colorectal cancer in the United States, it can be used to look inside the entire rectum and lower part of the colon. This test can detect and possibly remove any abnormalities. During this test, a flexible, lighted tube (about the thickness of a finger) with a small camera affixed to the end, called a sigmoidoscope, is inserted into the rectum.


A colonoscopy is one of the most effective tests available to protect against major cancers, like colon cancer, colorectal cancer, rectal cancer and bowel cancer. For this test, your doctor will assess the health of your entire rectum and colon using a colonoscope, which is a longer version of a sigmoidoscope. Special instruments can be passed through the colonoscope to remove any questionable areas or polyps, if needed.

Double-contrast barium enema (DCBE)

This is basically an x-ray test that can detect abnormalities in the colon and rectum. If any questionable areas are found during this test, your doctor will recommend a colonoscopy as the next step.

CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy)

During this x-ray test, a special computer combines multiple images from the scan to create 2-D and 3-D images of the inside of the colon and rectum to help your doctor locate abnormalities like polyps and cancer.

The skilled gastroenterologists at Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio are available to help you determine the best screening test for you. Contact us to schedule your colon cancer screening test today at 210-614-1234.

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