Colon cancer screening is a valuable tool in the fight against cancer. Colon cancer is very common, yet it can be found early through screening. Treating colon cancer early makes a big difference in the outcome of your disease. Even more importantly, colon cancer screening allows your doctor to remove suspicious growths in your colon before they turn into cancer. Here are some things to know about this important health screening tool.
There Are Two Main Ways To Screen For Colon Cancer
There are two main ways to do colon cancer screening. One is to check for blood in your stools and the other is a colonoscopy. You can usually do stool testing with a home test, so this screening tool is convenient and easy to use. One such test checks for blood in your stool while another checks for blood and tests the DNA.
The other main way to check for colon cancer is through a colonoscopy that allows the doctor to visualize the inside of your colon to look for growths. You can have a colonoscopy done on a routine basis or as a follow-up to a positive stool test.
A Few Factors Determine When To Start Screening
Colon cancer screening using a stool sample might be done every year, while a colonoscopy might only be done every few years. When you start screening and how often you have a colon cancer screening depends on your family's history of colon cancer and the ages of your family members when they were diagnosed.
If you have a close relative who developed colon cancer at an early age, your doctor will probably want you to start screening at a younger age than someone with no family history of colon cancer.
Polyps Can Be Removed During The Examination
An advantage of a colonoscopy for colon cancer screening is that the doctor can remove polyps at the same time. This is important since polyps can turn into cancer given enough time to grow inside your body. Removing the polyps and having the colonoscopy is tolerable because you're given a sedative so you don't feel any pain.
You'll sleep through the examination, and while you'll need someone to drive you home afterward due to your sedation, there isn't any recovery time needed. If your doctor removes polyps during the procedure, they might send them for a biopsy to check for cancer.
Even though you may dread drinking the laxative before your colonoscopy, it's important your bowels are clean so the doctor can see polyps if they are present.
For more information about colon cancer screening, visit a local clinic.