Colorectal Cancer Awareness: Who Should Get Screened

Kristi Guillemette | March 7, 2017

Colorectal cancer screening saves lives.

Individuals over the age of 50, those in a high risk group, and anyone experiencing changes in bowel habits, should talk to a gastroenterologist about a colorectal screening.  The procedure is not only used to detect cancer, it is used to diagnose the reasons for bowel changes and gastrointestinal upset.

Regular monitoring is important for people living with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) including ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease. Unlike people in the general population, people with IBD don’t typically develop early signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer or precancerous growths called polyps and that is one reason for close monitoring through regular screenings.

If this is your first time researching colorectal cancer screening methods, below are various methods used by gastroenterologists to detect polyps and colorectal cancer:

  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy is a procedure performed by a gastroenterologist to view and examine the lining of the large intestine.  The doctor can find and remove pre-cancerous tissue during the procedure.  Patients are instructed to follow a bowel cleansing preparation before the exam.  While the procedure takes less than an hour in most cases, the doctor administers a light sedative and medication to help the patient relax.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a less invasive procedure than a colonoscopy and is used to look for early signs of cancer and can help doctors diagnose unexplained changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, bleeding from the anus and weight loss.
  • Virtual Colonoscopy: Computer Tomographic (CT) Colonography, also known as virtual colonoscopies, are used to find polyps (growths which are often benign but can develop to pre-cancerous tissue), cancer and other diseases of the large intestine through computerized technology. There are times when a traditional colonoscopy is recommended as a follow up to this newer technology that does not always detect small sized and flat polyps. Low-risk patients who are unable to complete a conventional colonoscopy may favor this less-invasive alternative.
  • Double-Contrast Barium Enema (DCBE): The Double-Contrast Barium Enema (also called DCBE or barium enema) procedure uses x-rays to examine the colon. Barium enemas are low risk and often less expensive than a colonoscopy. They are commonly used to diagnose colon cancer and inflammatory disease and also help detect polyps.

To learn more about colorectal cancer and who it effects please visit: https://www.ccalliance.org/awareness-month/


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