Colon Cancer Screening in Denver, CO

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Colon and rectal cancer is one of the most avoidable cancers. Your rectum and colon are the large intestine, which absorbs water and some of the nutrients digested from food, and stores solid waste until it is expelled from the body.

A screening for colon cancer is simply searching for polyps and cancerous growths on the inside wall of the rectum and colon when there aren't any gastrointestinal (GI) problems currently existing. A polyp is a growth where there is no cancer present in the colon. Yet, some of these may turn into cancer later on. Early detection and removal of colorectal polyps and any cancerous tumors can reduce the risk of complications as well as death because of cancer of the colon.

Our distinguished GI specialists commonly perform screenings for colon cancer in Denver, CO patients. To request an appointment, contact Denver Digestive Health Specialists.

Screening regularly for colon cancer is imperative for your general and GI health. Several advantages of screenings for colon cancer are:

  • Diagnose other types of gastrointestinal issues, such as IBD
  • Potentially detect colon or rectal cancer earlier
  • Can save your life
  • Possibly lessen the risk of colon cancer
  • Identify and extract precancerous growths (polyps) in the rectum and colon

Cancer of the colon may not carry signs or symptoms until it progresses. Scheduling screenings regularly can help your doctor diagnose any issues or conditions as early as possible.

Patients should have a discussion with their GI provider at Denver Digestive Health Specialists regarding when they should go to a colon cancer screening and what tests to have. One or more of the following tests may be suggested for a colorectal cancer screening:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscopy will be used to view the inner rectum and lower colon. A finger-sized tube that has a camera (called a sigmoidoscope) is inserted through the rectum so we can take images of the inside wall and a portion of the colon. The sigmoidoscopy can be used to take a biopsy of the tumor or polyp and also remove some polyps. But a colonoscopy will need to be done to view all of the colon and remove all tumors and polyps. This procedure is fairly safe but has a small chance of a bowel tear, bleeding, and infection.
  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscope is similar to a sigmoidoscope, but it is longer and used to examine the inner wall of the whole colon. The colonoscope is put in through your rectum and the provider can see a full view of the colon on our computer system. GI tools will be passed through the colonoscope to complete the biopsy and extract polyps. Sedation will be required. There is a slight risk of bowel tearing, bleeding, and infection due to the procedure.
  • Virtual colonoscopy: This is a CT scan of your colon. You will be asked to lie on our treatment table where the CT scanner will take cross-section images of the colon. It is a noninvasive treatment and does not call for you to be sedated. If we find any abnormalities, a colonoscopy will have to be done to remove the polyps or tumors.
  • Double-contrast barium enema: A small tube is placed into your rectum and barium sulfate, which is a chalky white liquid, and air will be pumped into your colon. The barium suspension lines the outer walls of the colon. X-ray images of the colon will then be taken to show any abnormalities on the inner wall of your colon. If abnormalities are found, a colonoscopy needs to be done to remove the polyps or tumors.
  • Fecal test: Fecal tests are completed with a fecal sample and are totally safe. Fecal tests may not provide confirmation of, but might suggest, abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract, warranting more testing. A colonoscopy needs to be repeated if results are positive, indicating cancerous growth in the colon.

Our Denver, CO gastroenterologists conduct three types of fecal tests:

  • Fecal occult blood tests that can detect blood in the feces not visible to normal eyes through a chemical reaction.
  • Fecal immunochemical tests that detect blood through a certain immunochemical reaction of protein in the blood and are often able to find hidden blood.
  • Stool DNA tests identify certain abnormal/irregular DNA genes from the cells discarded from cancerous outgrowth or polyps in the stool sample.
  • People 45 and older
  • People with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • Patients with familial adenomatous polyposis, a condition where patients develop a number of polyps in the rectum and colon
  • Patients with close family members like parents, siblings, or children who have or had colon cancer
  • People with a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, and/or who smoke
  • Patients who had colon cancer earlier in their life
  • Women with a previous history of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer

With regular testing, colorectal cancer can be easily detected and prevented in the early stages. If you're over 45 or have had additional conditions that increase your chances of colon cancer, you might want to schedule your colorectal cancer screening. A physician-led team of gastroenterologists who operate with a patient-centered attitude, Denver Digestive Health Specialists employs the most innovative technology to strengthen your digestive health. To schedule a colon cancer screening in Denver, CO, contact our facility at your earliest convenience.

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Why is having colon cancer screenings important?

Colon cancer typically arises from growths in the large intestine (colon) or rectum called polyps. During a colonoscopy screening, these premalignant growths can be excised to help reduce the risk of and potentially even prevent the development of colorectal cancer. Routine screenings for colon cancer can also allow doctors to diagnose cancer that is already present. If colorectal cancer is found early on, it may be simpler to address.

At what age should I begin colon cancer screenings?

Individuals who are at average risk should begin regular screenings for colorectal cancer at 45. Individuals who have a higher risk might require screenings before this age. Your gastrointestinal doctor can help you identify exactly when you should begin your colon cancer exams.

How often should you have a screening for colon cancer?

The timeframes with which you should have colorectal cancer screenings may depend on the type of evaluation being performed. Generally, individuals who are age 45 and over should undergo a colonoscopy exam once every ten years when they carry an average risk of developing colorectal cancer and have colonoscopy results that are within normal limits. Those who carry a significantly high risk are advised to undergo colonoscopy exams at least once every five years. For details on how frequently you should arrange for screening exams for colorectal cancer, please consult your gastroenterologist.

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