Should I Get Screened for Colon Cancer?

colon cancer

Often called colon cancer, colorectal cancer is a very concerning gastrointestinal (GI) illness and a leading cause of death among U.S. citizens. It affects the lower part of the GI tract, known as the colon, and occurs as cells in the intestinal lining form polyps, or noncancerous growths. After a while, polyps can turn into cancerous tumors, leading to colon cancer. Getting colon cancer evaluations at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates is paramount to detecting symptoms of the condition as early as possible and minimizing your chances of developing this common type of cancer. Book an appointment with our New Orleans, LA gastroenterologists today or continue reading to discover more about colon cancer and the importance of colon cancer screenings.

Colorectal cancer signs and symptoms

Though colon cancer could impact women and men alike, it typically develops in the older population. Other than age, risk factors for the disease consist of genetics, tobacco use, excessive alcohol intake, a past of polyps or another form of cancer, digestive diseases (such as inflammatory bowel disease), and poor nutrition, among others. Some of the more common symptoms of colon cancer in New Orleans, LA individuals are:

  • Severe diarrhea
  • Anal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent constipation
  • Abdominal fullness
  • Extreme bloating
  • Changes in bowel movements

There might be no apparent symptoms of colon cancer in some cases, specifically in the early stages. This makes obtaining routine colorectal cancer screenings from a gastroenterologist very crucial to your overall wellness.

When is the right time for a colorectal evaluation?

A colorectal cancer screening at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates can typically detect the disease in the initial phases. If precancerous growths are diagnosed, they can generally be extracted and managed more effectively, dramatically decreasing the likelihood of cancer forming. Routine colon screenings with a gastrointestinal doctor may even ward off the formation of colon cancer. It is often advised that individuals who are not at a high risk for colon cancer begin getting regular colon cancer checkups at 45 years old.

The prevalence of which these screenings are performed varies largely according to your overall health and other considerations. In general, these colorectal screenings may be suggested at 5 to 10-year intervals. Because personal health and risk factors will differ, your GI doctor will recommend how often you should schedule colorectal cancer tests.

What forms of colorectal cancer screenings are offered?

Screenings for colon cancer can offer your gastrointestinal physician an opportunity to search for signs of polyps or abnormal tumors in the colon. As GI health experts, the professionals at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates perform a wide array of colon cancer screening tests, like:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: This treatment relies on a small camera to convey a high-definition view of the internal rectal wall and lower portion of the colon. It may be used for polyp removal or when taking a biopsy of an irregular area of tissue. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is almost always combined with fecal matter testing to check for blood in the stool.
  • Double-contrast barium enema procedures: These types of screening procedures include the administration of air and a barium sulfate liquid, which adheres to the outside structure of the large intestine. Radiographs are then completed to show polyps, lesions, or additional abnormalities within the colon.
  • Virtual colonography: As a noninvasive procedure, virtual colonography is conducted by using CT (computed tomography) imaging technology to examine the large intestine and rectum for potentially cancerous tissue.
  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy exam is completed with a tubular scope outfitted with a micro-camera and is conducted to assess the inner wall of the entire rectum and colon. Biopsy testing and the excision of precancerous polyps may be completed during the exam. Colonoscopy is termed the gold standard test for colon cancer screening and is the only screening test that provides a view of the colon as a whole.
  • Fecal tests: As diagnostic processes, fecal tests screen for the presence of blood in fecal material that might not be visible to the eye. This type of testing could additionally function to pinpoint potentially cancerous cellular matter and evidence of cellular DNA changes in a fecal culture.

Safeguard your GI health with colon cancer screenings in New Orleans, LA

Scheduling in-depth colon cancer screenings starting about age 45, or as encouraged by your GI specialist, can detect precancerous growths early on and help lessen your risk of a colorectal cancer diagnosis. If you would like to know more about how to defend your overall health through routine colorectal cancer diagnostics, please get in touch with our New Orleans, LA team at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates.