Colon cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers for both men and women in the United States. It is important that you understand your risk of developing this disease, as well as lifestyle changes you can make now to reduce your chances of falling victim to colon cancer.
Cancer of the large intestine, or colon, typically begins as small clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Often, these small polyps form in your colon and produce few, if any, symptoms.
If they are not removed, they may eventually become cancerous. This is why physicians recommend routine screening to identify and remove polyps before they become a problem.
One of the best ways to prevent death from colon cancer is to have regular screenings. Because more than 90% of all colorectal cancers are found in people who are 50 and older, the American Cancer Society recommends that you start getting routine colon screenings at age 50.
If you have a family history of this disease, your physician may recommend that you start screening earlier.
To help find cancers early colon cancer screening tests are used. It’s better to find the cancers before they start to cause any warning signs. Early detection of colon cancer can make curing it more likely. Your doctor will choose the type of colon cancer screening test you will have.
This Is A List Of Different Types of Colon cancer Screening Test you May Be Asked To Take.
Colonoscopy, this is one that most people have heard of: You will be given medication that will make you sleepy and relaxed. This colon cancer screening is usually not painful but may be a bit uncomfortable.
A thin, flexible tube with a video camera attached is inserted into your rectum, the doctor will be able to view your whole colon. It can also be used to remove polyps and cancers during the exam.
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy, this colon cancer screening test is similar to the colonoscopy. A hollow tube with a light at the end that is thin and flexible is inserted into your rectum. The tube has a tiny video camera connected to it so the doctor can look at the lower part of your colon and rectum.
As you can imagine this is a bit uncomfortable as well. This will let your doctor see polyps that are very small. Even before they can be found in a fecal blood test.
Digital Rectal Exam, no this is not another camera that they are going to be sticking up your you know what.
This is when the doctor will put their gloved finger into your rectum to see if they can feel any growths. This colon cancer screening test is not painful but a bit uncomfortable. This test can only find 10% or less of colon cancers.
Double-Contrast Barium Enema, in this test you will be given an enema; fluid will be injected into your rectum. This liquid will show up on an x-ray and give the doctor a look to see if they can find any abnormal spots on your whole colon. If any spots are found they will set you up for a colonoscopy to check them out.
Fecal Occult Blood Test, hey guess what in this test nobody is sticking anything up your rectum! Your stool will be checked for blood that you can not see. You get to do this at home, at least the stool sample part. You will get a kit to bring home and return to your doctor with your sample.
The researchers looked at the detection rate of neoplasms, or the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of tissue that’s characteristic of cancer. They discovered the detection rate in the 45 to 49-year-old group was about 400 percent more than that of the 40 to 44-year-old group.
Even when the researchers excluded patients with a personal or family history of polyps or colon cancer—factors which can up their risk, too—they still found that detection rates for polyps and neoplasm were significantly higher in the 45 to the 49-year-old group than in those under 45.
“Regardless of the type of screening that is in place, the results of our research strongly indicate that screening for colorectal cancer should begin at the age of 45,”
Screening For Colon Cancer
In order to detect colon cancer early, everyone, even individuals who are not at high risk, that is, with no symptoms and with no family history of colon cancer, should be screened.
Cancer specialists suggest that screening for such individuals start at age 50 and consist of tests that detect colon cancer in the body:
- Colonoscopy, at least every ten years
- Sigmoidoscopy, at least every 5 years
- Double-contrast Barium Enema, at least every 5 years, or
- Virtual Colonoscopy (computed tomographic colonography), at least every 5 years
These tests allow a doctor to actually see the growth or cancer inside the colon. The frequency at which these tests are repeated depends on what is found during the procedure. Cancer specialists also recommend tests that look for blood in the stool, such as:
Annual Guaiac-based Fecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT) – Such tests detect the presence of blood from tumors in the stool. Generally, these tests are not as effective at detecting colon cancer as those that detect cancer in the body.
Stage of Colon Cancer Determines
If the disease is detected as a small polyp during a routine screening test, such as a colonoscopy, the polyp can usually be taken out during the colonoscopy without the need for the surgical removal of any of the colon.
When the polyp becomes a tumor and reaches Stage 1 or Stage 2, the tumor and a portion of the colon on both sides is surgical removed. The relative 5-year survival rate is over 90% for Stage 1 and 73% for Stage 2.
If the disease advances to a Stage 3, a colon resection is no longer sufficient and the patient also needs to undergo chemotherapy. The relative 5-year survival rate drops to 53%, depending on such factors as the number of lymph nodes that contain cancer.
By the time the colon cancer reaches Stage 4, treatment may require the use of chemotherapy and other drugs and surgery on multiple organs. If the size and number of tumors in other organs (such as the liver and lungs) are small enough, surgery may be the initial treatment, followed by chemotherapy. In some cases, the size or number of tumors in the other organs takes away the option of surgery as the initial treatment.
If chemotherapy and other drugs can reduce the number and size of these tumors, surgery may then become an option as the second form of treatment.
If not, chemotherapy and other drugs (possibly through clinical trials) may temporarily stop or reduce the continued spread of cancer. The relative 5-year survival rate drops to approximately 8%.
As the relative 5-year survival rates indicate, the time frame in which colon cancer is detected and treated makes a dramatic difference. If detected and treated early, the individual has an excellent chance of surviving the disease.
Feature Image Credit: shutterstock.com
Inpost Image Credit: shutterstock.com & harrishealth.files.wordpress.com