Colorectal cancer is a common type of cancer that can be prevented. The colon and rectum are part of the large intestine, which helps absorb water and nutrients from food and stores waste until it’s eliminated from the body.
A colon cancer screening is a way of checking for abnormal growths called polyps and cancer in the inner lining of the colon and rectum. This screening is done even if you don’t have any symptoms related to your digestive system. Polyps are growths in the colon that are usually harmless, but some can become cancerous over time. By detecting and removing these polyps or tumors early, we can prevent complications and potential death from colon cancer.
Our team of gastroenterology specialists at The Gut Clinic UK are authorized by the Joint Advisory Group (JAG) and perform colon cancer screenings on a regular basis. If you’d like to schedule a screening, please reach out to a specialist at The Gut Clinic UK in your area.
There are several options available for colon cancer screening. It’s important to talk to your GI doctor about when to get screened and which tests are suitable for you. Here are some common screening methods:
– Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A thin tube with a camera at the end is inserted into the rectum to examine the lower part of the colon. This test allows the doctor to view the images on a monitor and take biopsies or remove polyps. However, it doesn’t provide a full view of the entire colon, so a colonoscopy may be needed for a complete examination. It’s generally safe, but there is a small risk of complications like bowel tear, bleeding, or infection.
– Colonoscopy: A longer tube with a camera is used to inspect the entire colon. It is inserted through the rectum, and the doctor can see the images on a monitor. Biopsies can be taken, and polyps can be removed during the procedure. Sedation is required, and there is a small risk of complications such as bowel tears, bleeding, or infection.
– Virtual colonoscopy: This is a non-invasive technique that uses a computed tomography (CT) scan to create detailed images of the colon. It doesn’t require insertion of a tube, but if any abnormalities are found, a follow-up colonoscopy is necessary to remove polyps or tumors.
– Double-contrast barium enema: A tube is inserted into the rectum, and a chalky liquid called barium sulfate is pumped into the colon along with air. X-ray images are taken to reveal abnormalities in the colon’s inner lining. If any issues are found, a colonoscopy is required to remove polyps or tumors.
– Fecal tests: These tests involve analyzing a stool sample for any signs of abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract. They are safe and non-invasive. While they may not provide a definitive diagnosis, positive results may suggest the need for further tests. If abnormalities are detected, a colonoscopy is usually recommended. There are three types of fecal tests: fecal occult blood tests, fecal immunochemical tests, and stool DNA tests.
It’s important to discuss these screening options with your doctor to determine the most appropriate choice for your situation.
Certain groups of people have a higher risk of developing colon cancer.
– Inherited familial adenomatous polyposis: This is a condition where individuals develop numerous polyps in their colon and rectum.
– Individuals who had colon cancer in the past.
– Women with a previous history of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer.
– People with close family members (parents, siblings, or children) who have or had colon cancer.
– Individuals with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are inflammatory bowel diseases.
– People with a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, unhealthy eating habits, and who smoke.
If you belong to any of these groups, it’s important to talk to your doctor about appropriate screening for colon cancer to detect any potential issues early on.
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