Colon Cancer Screening

Scheduling periodic colon checkups, before symptoms occur – just as women have routine pap smears and mammograms, and men have routine prostate exams – will reduce your risk of developing colon cancer. If you do not have any symptoms, take this opportunity to protect your health and schedule your colonoscopy now. If you are a high risk individual or have experienced some gastrointestinal symptoms it is even more important that you begin a regular screening program. Patients that schedule a colonoscopy usually fall into one of the following categories:

Over 75% of colon cancer cases are sporadic which means that they are not associated with ANY risk factors. Colon cancer is an equal opportunity disease – men and women are equally affected. The most common symptom of colon cancer is no symptom at all.

Schedule a Screening

Average-Risk Individuals with No Symptoms:

Most people fit into this category. For those with no symptoms and no high risk factors, it is recommended that colon screening begin at age 50. These individuals qualify for our Open Access Colonoscopy. Screening consists of a colonoscopy that will allow your doctor to evaluate the entire colon and remove any polyps that might be identified.

Individuals with Symptoms:

Screening programs for colon polyps and cancer are designed for patients who have no symptoms. If you have symptoms such as rectal bleeding, altered bowel habits, unexplained iron deficiency anemia or a positive test for hidden blood in your stool, you need to first see your doctor to determine the most appropriate testing. Typically, a colonoscopy will be included in the list of tests prescribed.

High-Risk Individuals

While we are all at risk, some of us have a higher risk than others because of certain risk factors in our medical history. Those who fall into a high risk category should be screened at an earlier age. Standard procedure for high risk individuals is to start a colon screening program at age 40; however, in some hereditary cases a screening program should be started at an earlier age. The screening test of choice is a colonoscopy that will allow your doctor to evaluate the entire colon and remove any polyps that might be identified.

High-Risk Factors include:

  • Family history of colon cancer and/or polyps
  • Personal history of colon polyps
  • Personal history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Personal history of breast or uterine cancer

Regular Colon Screenings are Essential

While a family history of colon cancer is a well-recognized risk factor, most cases of colon cancer (over 75 percent) are not associated with any risk factors at all. You could have a polyp, or even an early cancer, growing in your colon right now and feel perfectly fine. There are no symptoms such as pain, bleeding, or change in bowel habits to warn you – until it is often very late. Left undetected, colon cancer eventually penetrates through the outer colon wall and spreads to other organs, most often the lymph nodes and the liver. It has been repeatedly shown that by detecting and removing colon polyps before they become cancerous, colon cancer can be prevented.

Schedule a Colonoscopy