Colon Cancer Screening in Utah
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What is a screening for colon cancer?
Of all the various forms of cancer, colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable. The rectum and colon combine to make up the large intestine, which absorbs water and nutrients from digested food, and stores waste before it's released from your body.
A screening for colon cancer is simply checking for polyps and growths that could be cancerous on the inner wall of the colon and rectum when no GI problems are present. A polyp is a growth that is not cancer in the colon. Some of these may grow into cancer later on, however. Early detection and removal of colorectal polyps and any cancerous tumors may reduce the risk of problems and death caused by colon cancer.
Our distinguished GI physicians commonly perform colorectal cancer screenings for Utah patients. To schedule a consultation, contact Utah Gastroenterology.
What are the benefits of colon cancer screenings?
Routine screenings for colon and rectal cancer are essential to your overall and digestive health. Some of the advantages of colon cancer screenings include:
- Diagnose other types of gastrointestinal conditions, like IBD
- Potentially find colon cancer early on
- Find and extract abnormal growths in the colon and rectum
- Possibly prevent the development of colon cancer
- It can be a life-saving exam
Cancer of the colon may not show signs or symptoms until the disease advances. Having screenings on a periodic basis can help identify any issues or conditions as early as possible.
What are the available colon cancer screening options?
You can consult your GI specialist at Utah Gastroenterology regarding when to schedule a screening and which tests are recommended. The tests listed below might be suggested for a colorectal cancer screening:
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscopy will be used to get a look at the inner rectum and lower colon. A tube about the size of a finger with a camera (called a sigmoidoscope) is placed into the rectum, and images will be taken of the inner wall and part of your colon. The sigmoidoscopy can be used to take a biopsy of the tumor or polyp and to extract some polyps. But a colonoscopy will need to be completed to view the entire colon and remove all tumors or polyps. It is fairly safe, but there is a small risk of a bowel tear, bleeding, and infection.
- Colonoscopy: A colonoscope is like a sigmoidoscope, but it is longer and used to view the inner wall of the entire colon. The colonoscope is put in through your rectum and our GI specialist can see the images of the entire colon on the monitor. Specific tools will be passed through the colonoscope to complete the biopsy and remove polyps. A form of sedation will be required. There is a slight chance of bowel tears, bleeding, or infection occurring after the procedure.
- Virtual colonoscopy: This is a computed tomography scan of your colon. You will be asked to lie on the table, where the CT scanner will take cross-section images of your colon. This is a noninvasive treatment and doesn't call for any sedation. If any abnormalities are found, a colonoscopy will have to be completed to extract the tumors or polyps.
- Double-contrast barium enema: A thin tube is inserted into the rectum, and barium sulfate — which is a liquid that is white and chalky — will be pumped into your colon with a bit of air to help the physician see. The barium suspension will line the outer walls of your colon. X-ray images of your colon are then taken to show any abnormalities on the inner wall of your colon. If any abnormalities are found, a colonoscopy needs to be done to remove the polyps or tumors.
- Fecal test: These are performed by taking a fecal sample and are very safe. These tests might not give confirmatory results but may suggest abnormalities in the GI tract, calling for further tests. A colonoscopy should be repeated if your results are positive, indicating cancerous growths in your colon.
Our Utah gastroenterologists conduct three variations of fecal tests:
- Fecal occult blood tests detect blood in the feces which isn't visible to the eye through a chemical reaction.
- Fecal immunochemical tests detect blood through a specific immunochemical reaction of protein in the blood and are often able to find nonvisible blood.
- Stool DNA tests identify certain abnormal/irregular DNA genes in the cells shed from cancerous outgrowth or polyps in a stool sample.
Who might be at risk for colorectal cancer?
The risk of colorectal cancer is elevated for individuals in certain populations, including:
- Women with a previous history of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer
- Individuals over 45 years old
- Individuals who had colon cancer before
- Individuals who have close family members like parents, siblings, or children who have or had colon cancer
- People with familial adenomatous polyposis, a condition where they develop a number of polyps in the rectum and colon
- Individuals with a sedentary lifestyle, bad eating habits, and who smoke
- People with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease
Schedule your colorectal cancer screening today
Colon cancer can be diagnosed and often prevented if it's caught in an early stage, which is why routine checks are recommended. If you're 45 or older or have had other conditions that heighten your chances of colon cancer, you should schedule a colon cancer screening. A skilled team of gastroenterologists who operate with a patient-first attitude, Utah Gastroenterology utilizes leading technology to support your digestive health. To learn more about arranging a colon cancer screening in Utah, contact our office at your earliest convenience.
Colon Cancer Screening FAQs
Why is having colon cancer screenings important?
Colon cancer commonly develops from irregular growths in the large intestine (colon) or rectum, known as polyps. With a colonoscopy exam, these precancerous growths can be excised to help lower the risk of and potentially prevent colorectal cancer from occurring. Having regular colorectal cancer screenings can also allow physicians to detect cancer that has already developed. If colon cancer is identified early, it can be easier to treat.
When should I start having colon cancer screenings?
Individuals who have an average risk for developing this disease should start having routine screenings for colorectal cancer at age 45. People with a greater risk might require screenings before this age. Your gastroenterologist can help you determine exactly when you should start having colon cancer exams.
How often should I have a colon cancer screening?
The frequency with which patients should have colorectal cancer screenings may vary according to the type of test being conducted. Typically, those who are age 45 and over should undergo a colonoscopy every decade when they are at average risk of developing colon cancer and have colonoscopy results that are normal. Those who have a significantly high risk should undergo colonoscopy screenings at least once every five years. For details on how often you should arrange for screening exams for colorectal cancer, please consult your gastrointestinal physician.
How should I prep for my colon cancer screening?
The best method of prepping for a colon cancer screening will vary according to the form of screening you will receive. When undergoing a colonoscopy, detailed preparatory instructions will be provided by your GI team prior to your scheduled procedure so you can clean out your bowel. Your GI specialist may also give you certain instructions to follow for several days leading up to your screening. It is imperative to abide by your gastroenterologist's directions to help make sure they can observe any areas of concern when performing your colorectal cancer screening.
Colon Cancer Screening Videos
I’m one of Dr, Doxey’s success patients. He found colon cancer early enough to have it removed without chemo or radiation. Colonoscopies save lives. Dr. Doxey has a great staff and is an excellent doctor for this procedure. Don’t put it off!
I have gone to this office for about 5 years. I have always gotten quick response from my doctor and his team. Colon cancer survivor! Get tested!
I highly recommend Dr. Jones. His staff is very personable, everything went efficiently, and they made sure I had all the instructions and information throughout the whole process. Dr. Jones even called after the procedure to go through the results in person. He is very thorough and professional, and I feel I am in the very best of hands especially with having a high risk for colon cancer and needing colonoscopies yearly. Their team makes the process feel less daunting and easily manageable. I’m grateful!