Written By: Angela Hira, DO
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is a cancer that occurs in the large intestine or rectum and is the third leading cause of death in men and women in the US. There is a 6% chance for any male or female to develop colon cancer during their lifetime.
What are risk factors for Colorectal cancer?
There is an increased risk of colon cancer if drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, obesity, low fiber and high fat diet and sedentary lifestyle.
The risk can increase if you have a first degree relative with colon cancer or colon polyps. There are also certain rare inherited genetic disorders that can increase risk of colon cancer.
How do you reduce your risk and prevent colorectal cancer?
Colon cancer can be prevented by undergoing a simple outpatient procedure called a colonoscopy. The America Cancer Society and the CDC task force encourages any male and female above the age of 45 to complete a colonoscopy.
During a colonoscopy can find abnormal growths called “polyps” that start off as small lesions usually < 1 cm that do not cause any symptoms but over 8-10 years can grow into cancer. When these polyps are small they can be easily removed with minimal risk during a colonoscopy and can prevent colon cancer.
Also adapting healthy lifestyle such as high fiber and low fat diet, exercise and limiting alcohol consumption and tobacco use.
What is a colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is a procedure completed by a physician. A flexible instrument that is passed through the colon which is about 3 feet long and evaluate the colon walls to see for any abnormalities such as polyps, cancer, diverticulosis, inflammation. In addition to identifying these lesions can remove and take biopsies of colon tissue.
In order to have a adequate evaluation of the colon patients must clean their colon with a laxative prep that is taken the day before procedure. The procedure is a painless procedure that is completed typically under sedation.
What are signs and symptoms of colon cancer?
Typically patients with colon polyps do not have any symptoms (asymptomatic) and do not have any complaints until colon cancer has developed.
Patients can have belly pain, weight loss, bleeding in the stool.
Risks of colonoscopy?
There are risks with a colonoscopy like any medical intervention. The risk is very small. Possible complications includes side effects from anesthesia medication administration, partially torn (perforated) colon and this may require surgery. Also, rarely there is risk of bleeding after polyp removal or infection
You must weigh these low risks against the far more frequent complication of developing colon cancer if appropriate testing is not done.
Ready to schedule your colonoscopy?
Our Goal is to increase colon polyp detection
Only about 60% of adults of screening age are up-to-date on their colon cancer screening our goal is to increase colon cancer screening rates to prevent colon cancer and save lives/