When Should I Be Screened for Colorectal Cancer?
What can you do to keep your colon healthy? If you’ve ever wondered where to start regarding your colon health, you're not alone. Adequate amounts of physical activity, good nutrition, and regular health assessments are just a few approaches to optimize your health as you age. Colon cancer is among the most common yet preventable cancers thanks to the tests used to screen for the disease. Being proactive with your colorectal health can be as simple as requesting an appointment at GastroArkansas. Our Little Rock, AR gastroenterology team can help you take the first step toward maintaining your future health.
Why are colon cancer screenings important?
According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer affects approximately 4% of women and men in the United States, which equates to around 1 in 25 people. The good news is that colon cancer can be avoided when it is identified in the early stages.
In most instances, colon cancers begin as a growth (clump of cells) on the internal lining of the colon or rectum. Such growths are called colorectal polyps. It is rare to experience symptoms when you have polyps, so a colorectal cancer screening is critical for catching them. By scheduling regular screenings, you can help protect your gastrointestinal (GI) and general health by having these growths before they turn cancerous. It is also crucial to obtain a colon cancer screening if you have one or more of the following:
- Anal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Change in bathroom habits
- Change in stool form or color
What makes colorectal cancer such a common disease?
It isn't clear why colon cancer has become more widespread throughout the years. But several factors may contribute to the development of this disease. Staying informed and being aware of the risk factors associated with colorectal cancer can allow you to remain educated and make good decisions for your future health and wellness. Some of the risk factors for colon and rectal cancer involve:
- Lack of exercise
- Being diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)
- Tobacco use
- Genetic history of colon or rectal cancer
- A prior personal history of colon or rectal cancer
- A diet lacking fruits and vegetables
- A diet that incorporates a large amount of processed meat
- A low-fat and high-fat diet
We encourage you to schedule an appointment with a gastrointestinal specialist at GastroArkansas. Our Little Rock, AR providers can offer further information about colon cancer and help guide you toward future health and wellness.
How frequently should I undergo a colon cancer test?
It is recommended that you undergo an initial colorectal screening when you reach 45 years of age if you have an average risk for developing colorectal cancer, and then every ten years after that. The risk of polyps and bowel cancer increases as you age, which means the more times you have a colon cancer test, the earlier an issue can be caught. Beginning at 75, you should undergo testing based on your overall health and your GI specialist's recommendations.
It is essential to understand that having a familial or personal history of colon polyps or colon cancer places you at a significantly higher risk. If you’re in this significant high risk bracket, you'll likely require a colonoscopy at least once every five years. It’s better to understand the condition of your colon rather than to question whether you should set up a consultation. A standard test for colorectal cancer, better known as a colonoscopy, will typically take under an hour to complete. This procedure is an optimal way to learn about your colon status and what modifications you can make to help keep your colon in good health from that point forward.
Schedule a colon cancer screening in Little Rock, AR
A routine colon cancer screening can help preserve your future health and wellness. The American Cancer Society reports that approximately 144,000 new colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed on an annual basis. Help minimize that statistic today by setting up a colon cancer test at a GastroArkansas location in the Little Rock, AR area. If you have concerns or questions about the screening or your colon health, feel free to discuss them with your gastrointestinal specialist at your appointment.