Without timely intervention, colon cancer can be hard to treat, but an early diagnosis means you should go on to lead a long and happy life. The experienced team at Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates, P.A. performs routine colon cancer screenings at their facilities in Annapolis, Stevensville, Odenton, Bowie, and Pasadena, Maryland, to detect cancer in its earliest stages. Call the office nearest you to arrange a screening or book an appointment online today.
Colon cancer screening helps detect the very earliest signs of colorectal cancer in your large intestine and rectum. When you receive treatment for colon cancer at an early stage, you're far more likely to have a positive outcome.
This type of cancer typically begins when a growth called a polyp in the colon wall develops cancerous cells. Polyps are common and mostly harmless, but removing them ensures that none get the chance to develop into malignant tumors.
There are various ways to screen for colon cancer, including:
Your gastroenterologist at Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each screening before your test.
Stool tests are the simplest way to check for traces of blood in your bowel movements, which may be present if you have polyps or cancer. A positive result doesn't confirm the diagnosis, however, as there are other conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and hemorrhoids, that can also cause blood in your stool.
If you have a positive stool test, you still need to undergo a colonoscopy to view the inside of your large intestine. Your gastroenterologist removes and biopsies any polyps that they find.
Colonoscopy involves inserting a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope into your rectum that your provider feeds around the length of your colon. The colonoscope has a camera on its end that relays images of the tissues to a screen for your provider to view.
Colonoscopy is the best method of identifying and removing precancerous polyps in one procedure.
There are two variations on standard colonoscopy:
Sigmoidoscopy is almost exactly the same as colonoscopy, but the sigmoidoscope stops when it reaches the end of the sigmoid colon (the first section of bowel above your rectum).
Virtual colonoscopy uses computed tomography (CT) technology to produce detailed pictures of your colon and rectum without using an endoscope. However, if this form of colon cancer screening finds any signs of polyps, you would still need to undergo a colonoscopy to remove them.
Current guidelines state that if you're healthy and don't have any risk factors, colon cancer screenings should begin at age 45-50.
Risk factors that indicate you should start colon cancer screening sooner include a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps and having inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
To find out when you should undergo colon cancer screening or to book your test, call Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates, P.A. today or book an appointment online.