Colon Cancer Screening in St. Louis, MO

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Colon and rectal cancer can be prevented. The colon and rectum make up the large intestine, which will absorb water and nutrients from digested food and holds solid waste before it is expelled from the body.

Screening for colon cancer is simply looking for polyps and growths that could be cancerous on the inside wall of the rectum and colon when no gastrointestinal symptoms exist. A polyp is a growth that is not cancerous in the colon. However, the polyps can develop into cancer. Early detection and removal of polyps and any cancerous tumors may prevent complications and/or death caused by colon cancer.

Our experienced GI specialists commonly perform screenings for colon cancer in St. Louis and the surrounding areas. To request a screening, contact your nearest Specialists in Gastroenterology location today.

Patients should talk to their GI provider at a Specialists in Gastroenterology location in their community about when they should be screened for colon cancer and which screening approach they can take. Any of the tests listed below could be used for a colorectal cancer screening:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscopy will be used to get a look at the inner lower colon and rectum. A finger-sized tube that has a camera (sigmoidoscope) is placed into the rectum so we can take images of the inside wall and some of the colon. This can be used to biopsy the polyp or tumor and remove some polyps. Keep in mind, a colonoscopy needs to be done to see the whole colon and remove all tumors or polyps. This procedure is generally pretty safe but there is a minimal chance of a bowel tear, bleeding, and infection.
  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscope is like a sigmoidoscope, but it is longer and is used to examine the inside of the whole colon. It is snaked through the rectum and the GI specialist can see the entire colon on the monitor. Specific tools will be introduced into the colonoscope to take the biopsy and remove polyps. A form of sedation is applied. There is a small risk of bowel tears, bleeding, and/or infection occurring after the procedure.
  • Virtual colonoscopy: Virtual colonoscopy is a computed tomography scan of your colon. You will be asked to lie on our table where the CT scanner will take detailed images of your colon. This is a noninvasive technique and does not require you to be sedated. If any abnormalities are found, a colonoscopy will have to be done to extract the tumors or polyps.
  • Double-contrast barium enema: A little tube is inserted into your rectum and barium sulfate, which is a chalky white liquid, and air are pumped into the colon. The barium suspension will line the outer walls of the colon. X-ray images of your colon are then taken to identify any abnormalities on the inner wall of the colon. If any abnormalities are identified, a colonoscopy needs to be done to extract the tumors or polyps.
  • Fecal test: These are performed with a fecal sample and are very safe. These tests may provide confirmation but might suggest abnormalities in your GI tract, warranting further testing. A colonoscopy should be repeated if results are positive, indicating the presence of cancerous growths in your colon.

Our St. Louis, MO gastroenterologists conduct three types of fecal tests:

  • Fecal occult blood tests can detect blood in the feces not visible to normal eyes through a chemical reaction.
  • Fecal immunochemical tests detect blood through a certain immunochemical reaction of protein in the blood and can often find hidden blood.
  • Stool DNA tests identify specific abnormal/irregular DNA genes from the cells shed from cancerous growths or polyps in a stool sample.

Colorectal cancer can develop at any point, but there are some factors that could put you at a higher risk. Some of those factors include:

  • Patients 45 and older
  • Patients who have inherited familial adenomatous polyposis, a condition where individuals develop a number of polyps in their rectum and colon
  • Patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • Individuals who have had colon cancer before
  • People with a previous history of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer
  • Patients with immediate family members like parents, siblings, or children who have or had colon cancer
  • Individuals with an inactive lifestyle, bad eating habits, and who smoke

Regular checks can make colon cancer easily detected and prevented in its early stages. If you are over 45 or if you've had additional conditions that raise your risk of colon cancer, it may be in your best interest to be screened for colon cancer. As a physician-led team of gastroenterologists who work with a patient-centered mentality, Specialists in Gastroenterology utilizes leading technology to strengthen your digestive health. To learn more about colorectal cancer screening in St. Louis, MO, contact one of our locations.

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