Colorectal Cancer Screening in Bristol, VA
As we age, our cells accumulate mutations, and each mutation increases the risk of developing cancer. Colorectal cancer is a cancer of the colon or rectum, two parts of the digestive system that help to absorb water and nutrients, and store solid waste until it is released from the body through defecation. About 70% of colorectal cancer patients have cancer in the colon, and about 30% have cancer in the rectum. More than 50,000 people die of colorectal cancer each year, and 90% of those are individuals over the age of 50. It ranks second in cancer fatalities in the United States, only surpassed by lung cancer.
In the early stages of colorectal cancer, people can be asymptomatic. By the time colorectal cancer advances to a later stage and symptoms start appearing, the cancer is extremely difficult to treat. Therefore, visualization technology has been developed, commonly referred to as a colorectal screening, in order to monitor the most prominent indicator of colorectal cancer: the polyp.
If you are over the age of 50, you should receive colorectal screenings regularly. To schedule your colorectal cancer screening in Bristol, call (423) 482-8711 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online.
Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer commonly begins as a polyp and polyps are the most common indication of colorectal cancer. Polyps are abnormal growths that develop on the colon or rectum lining. Most polyps are benign, but over time, they can develop into colon or rectal cancer.
Outside of polyp formation, other noticeable signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer that may appear include:
- Persistent constipation, diarrhea, or other changes in bowel habits
- Unnecessarily feeling the need to have a bowel movement
- Blood in the stool
- Stomach cramping or pain
- Unintentional weight loss
Colorectal Cancer Test and Diagnosis
Colorectal screening tests generally begin at the age of 50 and continue until you reach the age of 75, at which time you and your healthcare provider will discuss the decision to continue testing.
There are several different screening tests your healthcare provider may recommend. The test most appropriate for you will take into account your age, medical history and family history among other factors. The most commonly recommended colorectal exams include:
High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT): A test which detects the presence of microscopic or invisible blood in the stool, which is common when polyps and cancer are present. There are two FDA-approved tests that are recommended 1-2 a year:
- Guaiac FOBT: Detects heme (from hemoglobin in the blood). Red meat will also test positive for heme so it should be avoided prior to the test.
- Fecal immunochemical test (FIT or iFOBT): Detects hemoglobin using antibodies.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A test which uses a sigmoidoscope inserted through the anus into the rectum and sigmoid colon. Air is pumped into the color and your healthcare provider checks for any abnormal growths and biopsies any findings. Stool must be completely cleared from the lower colon prior to the test. This type of colorectal screening is recommended every 5 years.
- Colonoscopy: A test which uses a colonoscope (a similar device to the sigmoidoscope except that it extends into the entire colon) to examine the colon and rectum and removes any abnormal growths. Test preparation requires “bowel prepping” to thoroughly clean out the colon and rectum, which involves a liquid diet and laxatives to remove any stool. This type of colorectal screening is recommended every 10 years.
There are other colorectal cancer screening tests available or that are in developmental stages, but most insurance companies do not cover them, and are not universally recommended.
People with a higher risk for colon cancer, even those under 50, and people over 75, should discuss test frequencies with their healthcare provider and the appropriate age to begin and end colorectal cancer screenings. Risk factors, aside from age include:
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Personal history of colon problems like Chron’s Disease
- Lifestyle choices including alcohol use, obesity, smoking, inactivity and a diet low in fiber and rich in red meats
If screened as recommended, polyp formation can be monitored and biopsies can be taken in order to detect cancer early so that it does not progress. The 5-year survival rate for stage I colon cancer patients is about 92%, while metastatic stage IV colon cancer patients have a 5-year survival rate of about 11%.
To schedule your colorectal cancer test, contact us today! Call (423) 482-8711 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online.
AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center
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