March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. To raise awareness and knowledge of the disease, the Surgery Group of Los Angeles is putting out a short guide on colorectal cancer screenings and advocating for people over 45 to get their first screening test.
Colon cancer, or colorectal cancer, is a common type of cancer that affects the colon or rectum. It develops from abnormal growths in the lining of the colon or rectum, known as polyps, which can become cancerous over time. Symptoms may include changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, abdominal pain or discomfort, fatigue, and weight loss. Risk factors include age, family history, personal history of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease, and a diet high in red or processed meat and low in fruits and vegetables. Colon cancer is often treatable when caught early through screening tests such as colonoscopies.
The age at which you should begin screening for colon cancer depends very much on your symptoms and family history.
If you have a family history of CRC or advanced adenoma in a first-degree relative, it is recommended to undergo a colonoscopy every five years, beginning 10 years before the age at diagnosis of the youngest affected relative, or at age 40, whichever is earlier.
Those with a single first-degree relative diagnosed with CRC or advanced adenoma at age 60 or older may start average-risk screening at age 40.
Tests for colon cancer are designed to detect cancer before symptoms arise. When done regularly, these tests can find colorectal cancer when it’s smaller and perhaps even easier to treat. While there are many screening options that we would like to go over with you today, the key is that you are tested. The types of tests that the American Cancer Society recommends are split into two major categories: Visual and Stool based screening.
Stool Based tests can be separated into two categories: Blood-based and DNA based. While they are less invasive and simpler to perform, they need to be performed far more often than their Visual counterparts.
If any of these tests show positive for blood or DNA changes, a colonoscopy must be performed. It does not however mean that cancer has formed in the colon, as it may also be Ulcers or Hemorrhoids.
Visual Tests are recommended for patients that have an average to high risk of having colon cancer. They don’t have to be performed as often as their stool counterparts but often require more lead uptime.
Regular screening is key in preventing colorectal cancer. If polyps are found during the testing process, they can usually be removed before turning into cancer. If you’re 45 and older talk to your doctor about which test is right for you. Be sure to mention your family medical history, as that will provide key insight into testing your unique situation.
Surgery Group LA is a team of professional and board-licensed surgeons, who specialize of their respective fields. The institution’s project to offer sufferers with advanced and complete surgical care.
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