Colorectal Screening 101

Colorectal cancer, cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum, is one that can be easily detected by routing colorectal screening. This form of cancer usually begins as a polyp, a non-cancerous growth that slowly develops in the colon or rectum. In some patients, the polyp forms into an adenocarcinoma, which accounts for nearly 96% of all colorectal cancers.

x-ray of colon during screening

Looking to learn more about colorectal screening? Wondering if you should be seeking out colorectal cancer screening in Los Angeles? Here’s everything you need to know.

Colorectal Screening Guidelines

Preventing colorectal cancer is the biggest benefit to undergoing routine screenings. If polyps are found, they can be removed, which reduces the risk of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, men and women above the age of 50 with an average risk of developing colorectal cancer should undergo screenings.

For those with an increased risk of cancer, it's best to start screening before the age of 50. Screening should also occur more often. Increased-risk patients include those with a history of polyps or a family history of colorectal cancer.

Risk Factors

There are many risk factors to consider when determining when you should begin colorectal cancer screening. According to Cancer.org, 1 in 22 men and 1 in 24 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The biggest risk factor is age, as the risk of this form of cancer increases as we get older. The average age of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer in both men and women is 63.

Aside from age, other risk factors and factors to consider include:

  • Racial/ethnic background (African Americans are at the highest risk)
  • History of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Overweight or obese
  • Physical inactivity
  • Diets high in red meat
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol usage

While some of these risk factors can be controlled, such as a diet or a lack of exercise, other factors are out of your hands. If you have any of these risk factors, it’s best to follow the colorectal cancer screening guidelines to ensure that any colorectal issues can be caught early on, minimizing the risk of cancer.

Recommended Screening Tests

There are many screening methods that can be used to test for polyps, adenomas, and colorectal cancer. Commonly used screening tests include:

  • High-sensitivity Fecal Occult Blood Tests (FOBT): Not all blood is visible when it’s in the stool. High-sensitivity Fecal Occult Blood Tests are used to find blood in the feces, which may be a sign of digestive issues such as polyps or cancer.
  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy is used to examine the inside of the colon to check for any abnormalities. This is one of the most widely used forms of colorectal screening.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: Similar to a colonoscopy, the flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure allows a doctor to examine the lower colon and rectum.
  • CT Colonography: CT colonography uses x-ray equipment to examine the large intestines for growths and other abnormalities.
  • Stool DNA (FIT-DNA, Cologuard): Stool is more than just waste! Believe it or not, Stool DNA tests can be used to detect gene changes that may indicate the early onset of colorectal cancer.

Which Test Is Right for Me?

With so many options available, it’s best to consult with your doctor to determine which colorectal screenings are right for you. Your risk factors will play a large role in determining the screening procedures that will provide the most thorough indication of your colorectal health.

To learn more about colorectal screening in Los Angeles, look no further than the Surgery Group of LA. We specialize in various colorectal procedures. Call us today at (310) 289-1518 to schedule a confidential evaluation.

Source

1. https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/colorectal-cancer-facts-and-figures/colorectal-cancer-facts-and-figures-2017-2019.pdf

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