Your colon is an important part of your digestive tract that processes and removes solid waste from the body. However, the colon can be affected by cancer in some cases, necessitating treatment. Understanding the risk factors for colon cancer and the recommended screening procedures can help you stay healthy through early detection and treatment. Here are three facts that patients should know about colon cancer screening.
1. Early Detection through Colon Cancer Screening Can Increase Your Likelihood of Survival
People who are diagnosed with colon cancer are 90% likely to survive if the cancer is treated while it is still localized, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. That means that cancer is detected before it metastasizes and spreads to lymph nodes and nearby organs. This can be accomplished through early detection. Colon cancer screening allows doctors to diagnose colon cancer as soon as possible.
2. There Are Invasive and Non-Invasive Screening Procedures Available
Colon cancer can be detected in many ways. If you prefer a non-invasive screening option, you may be able to submit a stool sample for testing. By detecting the presence of blood and antibodies in stool, doctors can determine whether or not cancer may be present. A positive result during a stool test will typically prompt a closer look through a colonoscopy and biopsy.
Colonoscopies are performed using a small, flexible camera that is inserted into the colon through the rectum. Patients are put under general anesthesia before the procedure begins in order to ensure their comfort. During colonoscopies, doctors can find polyps that may signify colon cancer. Biopsies may be collected during your colonoscopy, and some polyps may be removed. Your doctor can let you know the best time to undergo colon cancer screening based on risk factors such as your age, family history of cancers, and lifestyle.
3. Colon Cancer Screening Remains Important after Colon Cancer Treatment
People who have been diagnosed with colon cancer in the past may be at increased risk of recurrences. Once you have been pronounced free of cancer, you will still need to undergo routine colonoscopies. Your doctor can help you determine the best colonoscopy schedule for your situation. If you had a particularly aggressive form of colon cancer or you have several risk factors, your doctor may suggest colonoscopies as often as every few months for the first few years. As time passes without a recurrence of cancer, you may eventually be encouraged to return to a more typical screening schedule of once every few years.
For more information, contact a colon cancer testing center like Gastro Health.