Colon Cancer Screening in Houston, TX

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Colorectal cancer ranks as the third most diagnosed cancer. Fortunately, it is also one of the most preventable. The colon and rectum form the large intestine, responsible for absorbing water and some nutrients from digested food and storing solid waste until it is expelled from the body.
A colon cancer screening involves examining the inner wall of the colon and rectum for polyps and cancerous growths when there are no gastrointestinal symptoms present. Polyps are noncancerous growths that can sometimes develop into cancer. Early detection and removal of these polyps and malignant tumors can prevent complications and fatalities related to colon cancer.
The board-certified gastroenterologists at Gastroenterology Consultants routinely conduct colon cancer screenings and recommend that all patients begin these screenings at age 45. To schedule a screening, contact our practice in Houston, TX today.

What are the benefits of colorectal cancer screenings?

Routine screenings for colon and rectal cancer are crucial for maintaining both general and gastrointestinal health. While various screening methods are available, such as stool testing, a colonoscopy is the only preventive measure for colorectal cancer. The benefits of these screenings include:

  • Potentially life-saving examinations
  • Early detection of colon or rectal cancer
  • Identification and removal of polyps in the colon and rectum
  • Prevention of colon cancer development
  • Detection of other gastrointestinal issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease

Colon cancer often does not show signs or symptoms until it has progressed. Regular screenings allow providers to identify and address any concerns or conditions as early as possible.

It's important to discuss with your GI specialist about when to schedule a screening and which tests are suitable. Here are some of the available options for colon cancer screening:

Flexible sigmoidoscopy: This procedure uses a sigmoidoscope to view the inside of the rectum and lower colon. The sigmoidoscope is a finger-sized tube with a camera at the end, inserted through the rectum to display images of the inner wall of the rectum and part of the colon on a monitor. It allows for the biopsy of polyps or tumors and the removal of some polyps. However, a full colonoscopy is required to examine the entire colon and remove all polyps or tumors. This procedure is relatively safe but carries a small risk of bowel tears, bleeding, and infection.

Colonoscopy: Similar to a sigmoidoscope but longer, a colonoscope examines the entire inner wall of the colon. Inserted through the rectum, it displays images of the colon on a monitor. Special surgical tools can be used to take biopsies and remove polyps. Sedation is required for this procedure, which also has a small risk of bowel tears, bleeding, or infection. Notably, this is the only colorectal prevention strategy offered.

Virtual colonoscopy: This noninvasive procedure involves a computed tomography (CT) scan of the colon. The patient lies on a CT scanner table, which takes cross-sectional images of the colon. No sedation is needed. If any abnormalities are detected, a colonoscopy is necessary to remove polyps or tumors.

Double-contrast barium enema: During this procedure, a small tube is inserted into the rectum to introduce barium sulfate, a white chalky liquid, and air into the colon. The barium coats the outer walls of the colon, and x-ray images reveal abnormalities on the inner wall. If any issues are found, a colonoscopy is needed to remove polyps or tumors.

Fecal tests: These involve analyzing a stool sample and are completely safe. While fecal tests might not provide definitive results, they can indicate abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract, prompting further tests. If results are positive, suggesting the presence of cancerous growths, a colonoscopy is needed. There are three types of fecal tests:

  • Fecal occult blood tests: These detect hidden blood in the stool through a chemical reaction.
  • Fecal immunochemical tests: These identify hidden blood through a specific immunochemical reaction to a protein in the blood.
  • Stool DNA tests: These look for abnormal DNA genes in cells shed from cancerous growths or polyps in the stool sample.

Colon cancer can affect anyone, but certain factors increase the risk. Individuals in the following groups should be particularly vigilant:

  • People over 45 years of age
  • Individuals with inherited familial adenomatous polyposis, which causes the development of polyps in the colon and rectum
  • Those who have had colon cancer previously
  • Women with a 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 or Crohn’s disease
  • Those with a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, and smokers

Regular screenings are crucial for early detection and prevention of colon cancer. If you are over 45 or have any conditions that increase your risk, schedule a colon cancer screening at a Gastroenterology Consultants office. Gastroenterology Consultants is a physician-led network of gastroenterologists dedicated to a patient-first approach and utilizing innovative technology for digestive health. To learn more about colon cancer screenings, contact our facility in Houston, TX today.

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Why is having colon cancer screenings important?

Colon cancer commonly begins from growths in the large intestine (colon) or rectum called polyps. During a colonoscopy screening, these premalignant polyps can be removed to help lower the risk of and potentially even prevent colon cancer development. Undergoing regular screenings for colorectal cancer can also help identify cancer that has already progressed. Colon or rectal cancer may be less complicated to treat if found in the early stages.

When should you start having colon cancer screenings?

It is recommended that adults with an average risk of developing this disease begin having regular colorectal cancer screenings at age 45. Those carrying a higher risk might need earlier screenings. Your GI doctor can help you identify when you should begin receiving colon cancer screenings.

How frequently should you undergo a screening for colon cancer?

The timeframes for which adults should have colon cancer exams may be based on the evaluation being performed. Generally, patients aged 45 and over should have a colonoscopy every ten years when they carry an average risk of developing colorectal cancer and have colonoscopy results that are within normal limits. People with a significantly high risk should have colonoscopy screenings at least once every five years. For more information on how often you should undergo a colon cancer screening, please contact your GI physician.

How should you prep for a colon cancer screening?

The best way to prepare for a colorectal cancer screening will be based on the form of screening you are having. For a colonoscopy screening, your GI team will provide specific prep instructions to clean out your colon before your exam. There may be additional instructions to follow in the days leading up to your screening. It is important to follow your provider's directions to help make certain any issues can be observed during your colorectal cancer screening.

Professional care all around. Great medical staff . Dr. B. Has been one of my Doctor’s for 20 years. After my sisters bout with colon cancer 20 years ago I became aware of having a great Doctor.

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