Cancer that begins in the rectum or the colon is called colorectal cancer, or colon cancer for short. It affects all ethnic and racial types equally, but it is most common in people over 45. It’s the third most common cancer in both men and women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States– but it doesn’t have to be that way! All symptoms should be diagnosed by your gastroenterologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan, as well as planning your screening regimen based on your risk factors and age.
Colon cancer screening is designed to detect the early signs of the disease and eliminate them. The most common source of colon cancer is polyps — abnormal growths in the rectum and colon, which can be removed during a colonoscopy. When those polyps have already turned cancerous, screening leads to earlier treatment so that cancer can be removed and treated properly by the right specialists. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nine out of ten people who had colon cancer detected early are still alive after five years.
When to Start
Typically, colon cancer screening begins at age 45 (or earlier depending on risk factors) unless the gastroenterologist places you at a higher risk or if you already have a symptom. In fact, more national organizations are moving to recommend screening for people at this earlier age. Additionally, you might need to start screenings earlier if you have:
- A genetic disorder such as Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis
- Crohn’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- A close relative with colon cancer or a history of polyps
Stick to a Schedule
Our doctors can provide you with an appropriate schedule for colon cancer screening based on your history and current health condition.
When polyps are present, the NYC GI doctor will set you on a colonoscopy schedule tailored to the specific nature of the polyps found.
Symptoms That May Trigger a Screening
Pay attention to your colon screening schedule to remain healthy and cancer-free. At the same time, report symptoms that could signal the beginning signs of colon cancer. Your doctor can easily find the source of your concern and begin the appropriate treatment sooner rather than later by using one of the screening methods. Early signs of colon cancer include:
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stools
- Unexplained weight loss
- Change in bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation
- Change in stool consistency
- Weakness or fatigue
- Persistent bowel pain like cramps or gas
Your gastroenterologist should diagnose all symptoms for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Prevent Colon Cancer
Screening is the most effective prevention tool available, although you also can reduce your risks of developing colon cancer with a few lifestyle modifications:
- Stop smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Eat a variety of whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables
- Maintain a healthy weight
Our gastroenterologists are best in class board-certified NYC-based New York gastroenterologists (GI doctors). Please call with questions or to make an appointment.