At Adena, we are committed to decreasing colon and rectal cancers by providing education and increasing awareness
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- Adena Regional Medical Center
Six Reasons Why You Should Get Regular Colon Screenings
#1 Early Detection
The number one reason for having a colonoscopy is to prevent colon cancer. Colon cancer is a preventable form of cancer and can be cured if detected in time. With early detection the 5 year survival rate is 90% and greater.It is estimated that approximately 140,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed annually. Learn more by reading our Colonoscopy FAQs.
What are Polyps?
Polyps are growths that form on the inside lining of the colon. While colon polyps start out as benign tumors, certain types of polyps (called adenomas or adenomatous polyps) may turn into cancer. The risk of cancer is greater as the polyp gets larger.Early detection and removal of colon polyps will greatly reduce your chances of colon cancer. Polyps are easily removed by using a forceps tool that will pull the polyp off the colon wall. Polyp removal can also be done by using a forceps with a heat source to prevent further bleeding from the site. Larger polyps are removed using a diagnostic tool called a snare that is placed over the polyp and uses heat to remove the polyp, leaving a clean base on the colon wall.
#2 Maintaining Good Health
Regular colonoscopies provide a real time image of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
A visual inspection of the colon may lead to the need for a diet change. For example, a diet consisting of low fiber, high processed foods can lead to diverticulosis.
Diverticulosis is a condition marked by small sacs or pouches in the walls of the colon. These sacs can become inflamed and cause bleeding or blockage. Diverticulosis is a lifelong disease that cannot be healed or reversed. To prevent inflammation, an individual will need to avoid seeds, nuts, popcorn and other hard to digest foods.
Why is Fiber an important part of an individual’s diet?
Fiber, along with adequate fluid intake, moves quickly and relatively easily through your digestive tract and helps it function properly. Some types of fiber bind with fats and toxins helping to cleanse your entire colon. Think of fiber as nature’s way of cleaning the GI tract.
#3 Useful in Discovering Other Colon Disease
If you have noticed any rectal bleeding or blood in your stool, a colonoscopy can identify the location of the bleeding and treat it through a series of methods such as medications or cauterization (applying heat) to prevent further bleeding or breakdown of the tissue.
Symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain or constipation can be signs of other colon related diseases, such as Ulcerative Colitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Crohn’s Disease.
Proper diagnosis of these diseases can greatly improve colon health.
#4 Necessary if experiencing other symptoms
Symptoms such as rectal bleeding, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits should be checked out immediately by your physician.
With a colonoscopy procedure, many of these symptoms can be identified from visual inspection. Different methods of treatment are used when abnormal findings within the colon are present. For example, rectal bleeding is usually caused by hemorrhoids, which are dilated blood vessels or veins in the anal or rectal area.
Hemorrhoids can be treated with medications or by hemorrhoid banding. Banding is a procedure where tiny rubber bands are secured onto the hemorrhoid via suction where they will stay in place until the hemorrhoid falls off.
Treatment for diarrhea and constipation includes medications, such as stool softeners and antibiotics, and a change in your diet. Your physician may also take several biopsy samples (removal of small pieces of tissue) from your colon.
This will enable the physician to identify any bacterial changes or specific diseases within the colon.
#5 Your Age
At age 50, every person should be screened for colon cancer. Between 35-40 percent of individuals age 50 and older will have colon polyps. Some benign (noncancerous) polyps will progress to cancer if left untreated.
It is estimated that colon polyps may take ten years or more to develop into cancer.
Age 50 was determined as the starting age for screenings because that is the age that the risk for colon cancer begins to increase substantially.
People with a history of colon cancer in their family should be screened at age 40 rather than 50.
#6 Family History of Colon Disease or Cancer
Often we have predisposing risk factors that are beyond our control such as heredity and genes. Those with a family history of colon cancer are at greater risk. For instance, someone who had a parent with colon cancer is at roughly double the average risk.
This risk increases as more family members are affected. Hereditary familial polyposis is an inherited condition in which the colon is studded with hundreds of polyps that develop at an early age. The only known preventative treatment is surgical removal of the polyps in its early stages.
Another inherited disorder is known as Lynch Syndrome. This disorder is more common than hereditary familial polyposis. Individuals diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome have a higher risk for cancerous adenomas which develop earlier in life starting in their 20’s. Cancer of the colon is a serious but readily detected malignancy. Early detection increases the chance for survival. Today more advanced technology and research provides the capabilities of preventing and curing this cancer.
The most important step involves action by the patient to schedule a colon screening and by following-up with a physician.
Colon Cancer Prevention