When Should I Be Screened for Colon and Rectal Cancer?
What is the best way to keep your colon healthy? You are definitely not alone if you’ve ever wondered where to begin regarding maintaining your colon health. Adequate amounts of physical activity, a balanced diet, and regular health screenings are some of the ways to maintain your health as you get older. Colorectal cancer is one of the most widespread cancers; however, it's also on of the most avoidable cancers because of the tests that are available for this disease. Taking charge of your colorectal health can be as simple as setting up a consultation at Specialists in Gastroenterology. Our St. Louis, MO gastrointestinal (GI) specialists can help guide you down the path toward a future of health.
Why are colorectal cancer exams important?
As per the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer impacts the health of about 4% of adults in the United States, which is approximately 1 out of every 25 people. Fortunately, though, colorectal cancer is preventable when it is detected in the early stages.
Most colon cancers begin as a growth (clump of cellular material) on the inner wall of the rectum or colon. These growths are called colorectal polyps. It is rare to have symptoms with polyps, which is why an exam is vital for detecting them. By scheduling examinations, you’re helping to protect your GI and overall health by getting any polyps removed before they turn cancerous. It is also essential, however, to obtain a screening if you notice any of the following:
- Anal bleeding
- Change in stool color or form
- Abdominal pain
- Alterations in bowel habits
Why is colon cancer so prevalent?
Even though there isn't a clear answer to why colon cancer has become such a common disease throughout the years, a few factors might heighten the risk of colon cancer. Keeping informed and becoming familiar with the risk factors for the disease can enable you to stay vigilant and make ideal choices for your health and wellness. A few of the risk factors for colorectal cancer involve:
- A prior history of colon or rectal cancer
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Lack of physical activity
- A low-fat and high-fat diet
- Being diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)
- A diet insufficient in fruits and vegetables
- Use of tobacco products
When you request a consultation with a Specialists in Gastroenterology gastrointestinal provider, our St. Louis, MO staff can explain more about colon and rectal cancer and how you might help guide yourself toward a future of health.
How often should I undergo a colon cancer test?
It is recommended that you undergo your first colon cancer screening at 45 years of age when you’re at an average risk for developing colorectal cancer and then every decade as you age. The risk of developing polyps and colorectal cancer grows as you become older. Therefore, the more often you undergo colon cancer screenings, the quicker an issue can be found. Once your reach 75 years of age, you’ll require screenings dependent upon your overall health condition and your gastroenterologist's advisement.
It is essential to understand that having a personal or familial history of colon polyps or colon cancer puts you in the category of significantly higher risk. Should you fall into this significant high risk category, it's likely that you'll need to have a colonoscopy exam a minimum of once every five years. It’s better to understand the status of your colorectal health and wellness rather than to wonder whether you should request an appointment. A standard assessment for colon or rectal cancer, best known as a colonoscopy, generally takes under an hour. This exam is an ideal method to determine the current status of your colon health and any modifications you might need to make to help keep your colon healthy from that point forward.
Schedule a colon cancer screening in St. Louis, MO today
Having regular colon cancer screenings can protect your future health and wellness. The American Cancer Society reports that about 144,000 new cases of colorectal cancer get diagnosed each year. Fight that number today by scheduling a colon cancer test at Specialists in Gastroenterology in St. Louis, MO. If you have questions or concerns about the screening, don't hesitate to talk about them with your gastrointestinal specialist during your consultation.