Gastroenterology Associates are experts in screening for colorectal cancer. Their up-to-date knowledge and skills, along with access to the latest technology serve their patients well. It is important to ask your primary care physician about routine colon cancer screenings or if you prefer, contact our office for assistance in determining if you are at risk.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the world. There are few factors that increase the risk of colon cancer:
- Family history of colon cancer: There is a higher chance of colon cancer if an individual has a first degree family member or several family members (second degree) with colon cancer, or if it occurs in early age (less than 55 years).
- Personal history of colon cancer or polyps: Patients with a history of colon cancer that are cured or adenomatous polyps before age 60 years are at an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer.
- History of radiation therapy for cancer: Radiation therapy directed to the abdomen in order of previous cancer treating can increase the chance of colon cancer.
- Aging: 90 percent of colorectal cancers occurs in people older than 50 years of age this is the reason of necessity of colon cancer screening at age 50. Risk increases with aging.
- Race: African-Americans have a higher risk of developing colon cancer compared to other races.
- Lifestyle factors: high fat diet, low fiber diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcohol and obesity are other factors that can increase the chance of colon cancer.
- Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP): it is inherited condition that presents with polyp in colon. Almost 100 percent of patients develop colon cancer (usually by the age of 50). These patients need to start colonoscopy for early diagnosis at early age (before age of 25).
- Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC): This is a condition that at least 3 members of a family in 2 generations are diagnosed with colon cancer and one of them occurring at an early age (less than 50 years). Usually there is high incidence of ovarian and endometrial cancer in these patients.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): chronic ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have higher risks for developing colon cancer. This is the reason that patients diagnosed with IBD are recommended to have surveillance colonoscopy screenings after being diagnosed with IBD.
There are factors that decrease the risk of colon cancer:
- Aspirin and related medications in this group (called NSAID) may decrease the chance of developing colon cancer.
- Calcium: Studies have shown people who have a higher calcium intake, have a lower chance of developing colon cancer.
Fortunately colon cancer is preventable. A person without a self and/or family history of colon cancer should begin to schedule regular screening colonoscopies at age 50. Usually the first manifestation or introduction to colon cancer is a polyp. A polyp is small clump of cells that forms the lining of the colon. The doctor removes a polyp and sends it to the lab. The polyps are classified into different groups which determine how often the patient needs to have a colonoscopy. The doctor will review this pathology report with you.
Colon Cancer has different symptoms which may include:
Bright colored blood in the stool or rectal bleeding, thin caliber stool, continual constipation or diarrhea (changes in bowel habits), unintentional weight loss, frequent discomfort in the lower abdomen, bloating that does not improve with treatment, anemia, weakness and fatigue.
There are different colon cancer screening tests:
- Colonoscopy: it is the most accurate and available method. It allows the physician to look at and examine the entire colon. Please look at the colonoscopy section for more detail.
- Sigmoidoscopy: It is similar to a colonoscopy but only the rectum and the lower part of colon will be seen. While a colonoscopy looks at the entire colon, sigmoidoscopy is helpful when the location of the tumor or polyp is in the rectum and lower part of the colon. Please look at the Sigmoidoscopy section for more information.
- Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT): A FOBT is an easy and inexpensive tool for detection of blood in the stool. It does not replace a colonoscopy but is a good tool for quick screening/evaluation. Not all detection of blood in the stool is cancer; it can be from hemorrhoids, polyps or ulcerative colitis.
Our center utilizes a multidisciplinary team approach to your healthcare, which means that patients benefit from the combined expertise of physicians who have the knowledge, perspective and experience to address all aspects of your complete gastroenterological care.
We offer the most advanced diagnostic techniques and treatments for a wide variety of gastroenterological conditions. We also offer a full range of diagnostic procedures, as well as medical, surgical and minimally invasive treatment options to meet the individual needs of patients with gastroenterological conditions of any kind. Contact us if you are experiencing gastrointestinal issues that have not yet been addressed by our physicians.