Summary: A colonoscopy is regarded as the gold standard for catching and preventing colorectal cancer over other forms of screenings, like home-based tests.
Roughly 50,000 people in America pass away from colorectal cancer each year. Colorectal cancer is the second-most cause of cancer deaths among adult individuals. Luckily, the disease can be very treatable and, when caught early, the outlook can be extremely good.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three brands of at-home screening exams for colon and rectal cancer. Such exams function by uncovering malignant deviations in the feces, such as blood or DNA indicators for colon and rectal cancer. Although the comparative simplicity of these exams could make them seem like an acceptable alternative, it is crucial to understand that the colonoscopy is still the best option for the identification and prompt treatment of colorectal cancer. For individuals in Jackson, MS, a gastrointestinal specialist who can perform a colon cancer screening is available at GI Associates & Endoscopy Center.
Why receive a colon cancer screening?
Quick identification is critical to defeating colorectal cancer. When cancer is found in the bowels before it has a chance to metastasize, the five-year chance of survival is approximately 90%. Although other methods of checking for colorectal cancer exist, none are as precise and as complete as the colonoscopy screening. The leading tools in the fight against colon and rectal cancer are colorectal cancer awareness and routine colonoscopies.
How does a colonoscopy detect cancer?
To begin your colonoscopy, your GI doctor will give you preparatory instructions to ensure your bowel is empty throughout the exam. These instructions typically involve:
- Fasting: You could be asked to forgo solid food and consume only translucent liquids for a set period of time prior to your screening.
- Modifying medicines: If you take specific medications for heart problems, diabetes, or blood pressure, then you may need to adjust your amount or temporarily discontinue consuming them.
- Consuming a laxative: Your gastroenterologist might offer you a laxative or "bowel prep" to empty your bowels either the evening before or the morning of your colonoscopy.
Throughout the procedure, you will most likely be given a mild type of sedation to help you relax and then asked to rest on your side. A thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end will be fed through your colon (large intestine). This tube, or colonoscope, is lengthy enough to run through your whole large intestine. Your colonoscopy doctor will evaluate the live feed from the colonoscope's camera on a video monitor and screen for anything abnormal. In the event a growth (polyp) or another abnormality is identified, special instruments can be utilized through the scope to capture samples of the tissue for biopsy.
When should I get a colonoscopy procedure?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends scheduling an initial colonoscopy at 45 years of age and then once every decade if you are at average risk for the disease. If you have an increased chance of developing colon or rectal cancer, then your GI doctor may advise having a colonoscopy on a 3 to 5-year basis. Common colorectal cancer risk factors include:
- Family history of colon or rectal cancer
- Personal history of large polyps, multiple polyps, or colon cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Digestive conditions, like Crohn's disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Your gastroenterologist may also recommend a colonoscopy if you are experiencing any of the following signs or symptoms of colon and rectal cancer:
- Chronic constipation
- Blood in your stool
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loose stools
- Pain in the abdominal area
Should you notice signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer, please contact GI Associates & Endoscopy Center in Jackson, MS to meet with a gastrointestinal physician as soon as possible.
Why is a colonoscopy the gold standard for colon cancer screenings?
Even though some home-based screening kits have received FDA approval, a colonoscopy is still the most effective way to detect cancer of the colon or rectum. Furthermore, large or potentially cancerous polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy which lessens the need for more procedures. An individual who tests positive on a home-based screening test will still need to schedule a colonoscopy to confirm the results and have any cancerous or precancerous polyps removed.
Need a colonoscopy in Jackson, MS?
For patients age 45 and over, getting periodic colorectal cancer screenings is an integral part of maintaining your overall health. A colonoscopy at GI Associates & Endoscopy Center can effectively diagnose and prevent colorectal cancer, offering you a good fighting chance if the cancer is identified early on and a sense of comfort if you are cancer-free. To schedule your routine colonoscopy in Jackson, MS, or for more information about protecting yourself against colorectal cancer, please contact our GI facility today.