Who Should Be Screened for Colorectal Cancer?
What is the best way to keep your colon healthy? You're definitely not alone if you've ever questioned where to begin when it comes to the health of your colon. Adequate exercise, a balanced diet, and preventive health screenings are ways to optimize your health as you age.
Colon and rectal cancer is among the most common yet avoidable cancers because of the screenings available for identifying the disease. Taking charge of your colon health could be as simple as arranging an appointment at Denver Digestive Health Specialists. Our gastroenterology team in Denver, CO can help guide you toward a healthy future.
Why are colon and rectal cancer screenings essential?
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer affects approximately 4% of men and women in the U.S., representing around 1 in 25 people. The good news is that colorectal cancer is preventable when diagnosed in the beginning stages.
Most colorectal cancers start as a growth (clump of cells) in the internal wall of the rectum or colon (large intestine). These growths are known as polyps. It is rare to experience symptoms with polyps, making a colon cancer examination vital for finding them. With regular exams, you can help safeguard your general and GI health and often have polyps removed before they become malignant. It is also imperative to undergo a colon cancer screening if you’ve experienced one or more of the following concerns:
- Change in the color or form of stool
- Pain in the abdomen
- Rectal bleeding
- Alterations in bathroom habits
What makes colorectal cancer so common?
While there isn't a clear explanation of why colon cancer has increased in prevalence over the years, a few factors may elevate the risk of colorectal cancer. Staying educated and knowing the risk factors associated with this disease can help you remain vigilant and make better decisions for the future. A few of the risk factors for colorectal cancer are:
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- A personal history of colon or rectal cancer
- A diet lacking vegetables and fruits
- A low-fat and high-fat diet
- A diet containing a high quantity of processed meat
- Lack of exercise
- Having inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)
- Tobacco use
We encourage you to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist at Denver Digestive Health Specialists. Our Denver, CO providers can provide further details about colon and rectal cancer and how you might help guide yourself toward future health and wellness.
How often should I undergo a colon cancer test?
It is recommended to have your initial colorectal screening starting at age 45 if you have an average risk for colon or rectal cancer, and then every ten years after that. The chance of polyps and colorectal cancer increases with age, which means that the more often you have colon cancer tests, the earlier an abnormality can be diagnosed. Starting at 75, you’ll likely need screenings depending upon your overall health and your gastroenterologist's advisement.
It is important to understand that having a personal or familial history of polyps or colorectal cancer puts you in the significantly higher risk category. If you’re in this significant high-risk bracket, you'll likely require a colonoscopy exam at least once every five years. It’s better to understand the status of your colon health than to question if you should seek an appointment. A standard test for colon cancer, best known as a colonoscopy, generally takes under an hour to complete. This procedure is an excellent way to determine your colon's condition and any changes you can make to keep your colon in good health.
Schedule your colon cancer screening in Denver, CO today
Having colon cancer screenings on a regular basis can help preserve your future health. The American Cancer Society reports that around 144,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed every year. Combat that statistic today by requesting a colon cancer screening at Denver Digestive Health Specialists. If you have concerns or questions about the screening or your colon health, feel free to discuss them with our Denver, CO gastroenterology team during your appointment.