Screening for colorectal cancer through colonoscopies can help to catch the disease in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable. Polyps are growths on the lining of the colon or rectum that may eventually turn into cancer.
Colonoscopy screening allows doctors to not only detect cancer, but also to remove polyps before they have a chance to become cancerous. That is why it’s important to talk to your doctor about when you should start getting screened for colorectal cancer.
Since colorectal cancer won’t manifest any symptoms until its advanced stage, it is crucial for people to talk with their doctors about the pros and cons of colonoscopy screening tests and how often it should be given.
Who is at risk of colorectal cancer?
The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age, and it is more common in people over the age of 50.
Other risk factors for colorectal cancer include a family history of the disease, obesity, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle.
People with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are also at increased risk.
While there is no sure way to prevent colorectal cancer, certain lifestyle choices can reduce your risk. These include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting regular screenings. If you are at high risk for colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened more frequently.
Have you previously had polyps removed?
A colonoscopy allows a doctor to check for abnormal growths, such as polyps or cancer. It can also be used to treat certain conditions, such as bleeding or blockages in the colon or rectum.
Most patients are required to get a colonoscopy every five years, although this may vary depending on risk factors such as family history or previous polyp removal. The procedure is typically performed under sedation, meaning that you will be asleep during the exam.
People with a history of colorectal cancer
It is important for patients who have had colorectal cancer to have regular colonoscopies. This is because the cancer can come back, and it is important to catch it early.
The interval between colonoscopies will be different for each person, depending on how high their risk is. Patients should talk to their doctor about how often they should have a colonoscopy.
There are other tests that can be done, but colonoscopies are the most effective way to detect cancer.
Persons who had radiation in the belly or pelvic area
While screening for colorectal cancer is recommended for all adults over the age of 50, patients who have had radiation therapy in the abdomen or pelvis are at increased risk for developing the disease and may need to start screenings earlier.
Radiation therapy is a common treatment for cancers such as ovarian cancer and prostate cancer, and can be an effective way to kill cancer cells. However, radiation can also damage healthy tissue, including the cells lining the colon and rectum. This damage can lead to changes in the colon that can eventually result in cancer.
For this reason, it is important for patients who have had radiation therapy to talk to their doctor about their risks and discuss when they should start getting screened for colorectal cancer.
People experiencing inflammatory bowel disease
IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease, is a condition that causes chronic inflammation in the digestive tract. IBD can be very painful and debilitating, and patients often suffer from a range of other symptoms, including fatigue, weight loss, and diarrhea.
Unfortunately, IBD also puts patients at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. The inflammation caused by IBD can damage the lining of the colon, making it more susceptible to cancerous growths. In addition, patients with IBD are often prescribed immunosuppressive drugs to control their symptoms, which can also increase their risk of cancer.