How Does Colon Cancer Impact Your Overall Health?
Also known as colorectal cancer, colon cancer is a severe gastrointestinal (GI) disease and a top cause of death for Americans. It impacts the final portion of the GI tract, the colon, and develops as cells in the lining of the large intestine form polyps. Over time, these polyps can turn into cancerous tumors, eventually forming colon cancer. Receiving colon cancer screenings at GI Alliance is necessary when it comes to finding symptoms of colon cancer immediately and minimizing your chances of getting this harmful condition. Set up an appointment with one of our GI practices in your area or read on to learn more regarding colorectal cancer and its complications.
Symptoms of colon cancer
Although colon cancer can affect women and men alike, it generally develops in senior patients. Along with how old you are, risk factors for the disease comprise genetics, a personal history of polyps or another form of cancer, GI conditions (like inflammatory intestinal disease), a bad diet, severe alcohol intake, smoking, and others. A few of the most common symptoms among patients include:
- Blood in the stool
- Extreme bowel movements
- Differences in bowel movements
- Abdominal fullness
- Abdominal discomfort
- Excessive gas
- Frequent constipation
- Unintentional weight loss
There may be no obvious symptoms of colorectal cancer in some people, particularly in the beginning phases. This makes getting regular assessments from a GI physician highly crucial to your overall wellness.
When is the right time for a colorectal test?
Screenings for colorectal cancer at GI Alliance can typically identify the issue in the initial stages. In the event that precancerous growths are detected, they can often be eradicated and cared for more easily, tremendously reducing the chances of cancer formation. Regular colorectal tests with a GI specialist might also prevent the development of colorectal cancer. It is generally suggested that people who are not at an increased risk for colorectal cancer begin receiving routine colon cancer screenings before they're 50.
The rate at which colorectal cancer screenings are conducted can vary based on a patient's overall wellness and other considerations. In many cases, such screenings for colorectal cancer may be recommended on a 5 to 10-year basis. Since individual health conditions and dangers can differ, your GI physician will recommend how frequently you must get colorectal cancer evaluations.
What types of colon cancer assessments are available?
Colon cancer screenings can offer your gastrointestinal doctor a chance to search for indications of polyps or irregular tumors in the large intestine. As gastrointestinal specialists, the doctors at GI Alliance perform a wide array of colorectal cancer screening procedures, such as:
- Double-contrast barium enema procedures: These screening procedures include the administration of a blend of air and a barium sulfate liquid, which coats the outside wall of the large intestine. X-ray images are then captured to show polyps, lesions, or additional abnormalities within the large intestine.
- Virtual colonography: Performed as a noninvasive service, virtual colonography uses computed tomography (CT) imaging technology to assess the large intestine and rectum for potentially cancerous areas.
- Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy procedure is carried out with a tube-like scope fitted with a micro camera and is conducted to assess the inward wall of the whole colon. Biopsies and the excision of precancerous polyps may be done at that time. Colonoscopy is considered the gold standard examination when it comes to colorectal cancer screening and is the sole screening test that allows doctors to see the colon in its entirety.
- Fecal tests: These diagnostics detect blood in a stool sample that might not be obvious to the unaided eye. Fecal tests might also help identify irregular cells and evidence of cellular DNA changes in a fecal sample.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: This treatment relies on a small camera to provide a high-definition look of the internal rectum and lower large intestine. This technology may be used when removing polyps or when completing a biopsy of a suspicious area of tissue. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is almost always conducted alongside fecal matter testing to evaluate for any indication of blood not visible in the stool.
Protect your health with routine cancer screenings
Coming in for in-depth colorectal cancer screenings beginning around age 45, or as recommended by your specialist, can help find benign growths promptly and minimize your chances for a cancer diagnosis. To find out more about the right way to protect your gastrointestinal health, please call our team at a GI Alliance location near you.