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How Do We Screen for Colon Cancer?

How Do We Screen for Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer — also known as colorectal cancer — is the fourth most common type of cancer found in both men and women. It’s also the fourth leading cause of deaths caused by cancer in the United States. 

Unfortunately, 33% of adults over the age of 50 still aren’t up-to-date on their colon cancer screenings. With cases of colon cancer being found in younger people on the rise, it’s more important than ever to be caught up on your colon cancer screenings.

While the most widely used screening tool for colon cancer is a colonoscopy, there are other options available to you. At Clover Internal Medicine Associates located in Fort Worth, Texas, our team offers these tests in order to catch colon cancer in its earliest stages. In this blog, we review what your choices are for colon cancer screening and why it’s so important to be screened for colon cancer regularly. 

Understanding colonoscopies

A colonoscopy is a test that takes a look at your large intestine. It’s done by inserting a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope through your rectum to examine your colon and look for any abnormalities such as polyps, inflamed tissues, or ulcers. 

During a colonoscopy, polyps can be removed or suspicious tissues can be taken out for a biopsy to see if anything is cancerous.

Getting a colonoscopy regularly is vital for your health. This is because colon cancer usually doesn’t present with symptoms, and colonoscopies are one of the only tests that can identify colon cancer. It’s estimated that colonoscopies are able to find 90% of any polyps or tissues that are cancerous.

What are your other options?

Another method for colon cancer screening that’s becoming more popular due to its less invasive nature is Cologuard®. This is a prescription testing kit that you can do on your own at home. It examines your stool for blood or abnormal DNA that can be the result of polyps or cancerous tissues. 

Who should be getting screened for colon cancer?

Because your risk for developing colon cancer increases as you age, the American Cancer Society recommends that you start getting colonoscopies at the age of 45. How often you get them depends on your family health history, the results of your other screenings, and whether or not you have inflammatory bowel disease.

You should consider being screened for colon cancer if you haven’t been tested in 10 years or you’re over the age of 45 and haven’t been tested yet. 

What to expect from a colonoscopy

Before you go in for your colonoscopy, you have to perform what’s known as bowel prep. You not only have to have a clear liquid diet for 24-72 hours, but you also need to take a laxative in order to clean out your bowels. Both of these things work to give your provider a clear view of your colon.

The day of your procedure, you go in and change into a hospital gown. You’re given a sedative in order to help you relax during the whole procedure. Your provider then inserts the colonoscope to examine your rectum and colon. The whole procedure takes anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour, but you should feel little to no discomfort due to the anesthesia.

What to expect from Cologuard 

After our team prescribes you the Cologuard kit, you can order it for yourself off of their website. You then need to produce a bowel movement that goes directly into the collection container. You also need to perform a swab sample of your stool and place it in a special tube. 

Next, you pour a preservative solution into the container and ship it back to the lab within 24 hours.

If you’re due for your colon cancer screening, don’t wait to schedule your next one. To set up a colonoscopy with us, contact our friendly staff by giving us a call at 682-708-0982 or by using our online booking tool today.

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