Who Should Get Screened for Colorectal Cancer?
How can you keep your colon in good health? You're not alone if you're questioning where to start when it comes to understanding your colon health. Physical activity, good nutrition, and preventive health assessments are some of the ways to optimize your health as you become older. Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed yet preventable cancers due to the tests that are available for identifying the disease. Being proactive with your colon health could be as easy as arranging for a consultation at Arizona Digestive Health. Our gastrointestinal (GI) specialists can help you take the first step toward a healthy future.
Why are colon cancer screenings essential?
Per the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer affects about 4% of adults in the U.S., which is around 1 out of every 25 people. However, colorectal cancer can be avoided if it is caught in the early stages.
The majority of colorectal cancers begin as a growth (clump of cells) on the internal wall of the rectum or colon (large intestine). These growths are known as polyps. It is rare to have symptoms with polyps, which means that a colorectal cancer screening is key to diagnosing them. When you have regular screenings, you’re helping to safeguard your GI health by getting any polyps excised before they become cancerous. It is also important, however, to obtain a colorectal cancer screening should you have any of the following symptoms:
- Rectal bleeding
- Pain in the abdomen
- Alterations in bathroom habits
- Change in stool form or color
What makes colon cancer such a common disease?
Although it isn't known why colon cancer has become such a common disease over the years, certain factors may heighten the risk of colon cancer. Staying informed and being aware of the risk factors associated with this cancer can allow you to stay vigilant and make better choices for your future health. Some of the risk factors for colorectal cancer involve:
- A personal history of colorectal cancer
- A low-fat and high-fat diet
- A diet that incorporates a large quantity of processed meat
- A diet lacking fruits and vegetables
- A family history of colon cancer
- Inadequate amount of physical activity
- Having inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)
- Tobacco use
We encourage you to schedule an appointment with a gastrointestinal specialist at Arizona Digestive Health. Our experienced physicians provide GI care for patients throughout the Phoenix, AZ area and can offer further information about colorectal cancer and its prevention.
How frequently should you undergo a colorectal cancer test?
It’s recommended to obtain an initial colon screening upon turning age 45 if you’re at normal risk for developing colon or rectal cancer and then every decade after that. The chance of polyps and bowel cancer increases as you become older, meaning that the more colon cancer tests you undergo, the quicker an abnormality is identified. Starting at 75 years of age, you’ll need to undergo testing based on your overall health status and your GI specialist's recommendations.
It is important to know that having a personal history or family history of polyps or colon cancer places you in the significantly higher risk category. If you fall into this significant high risk bracket, you’ll likely need a colonoscopy exam at least once every five years. It's much better to understand the condition of your colon health rather than to question if you should schedule a GI visit. A standard test for colorectal cancer, better known as a colonoscopy, typically takes under an hour to complete. This procedure is an optimal way to learn about the current status of your colon health and any changes you can make to help keep your colon healthy in the future.
Schedule your colon cancer screening in Arizona today
A periodic colon cancer screening can safeguard your future health and wellness. The American Cancer Society indicates that about 144,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed each year. Fight that number today by scheduling a colon cancer test at one of our Arizona Digestive Health locations throughout the Phoenix, AZ area. If you have concerns or questions about the exam or your colon health, we invite you to review them with your gastrointestinal specialist during your consultation.