Colon Cancer Screening in Houston, TX
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What is a colon cancer screening?
Colon cancer is one of the more common varieties of cancer in the U.S., but it is also one of the most preventable. The colon and rectum together make up the large intestine, which functions to absorb water and nutrients from the food you eat and stores the leftover waste while your body waits to expel it.
A colorectal cancer screening is simply the process of searching for polyps and other signs of cancer on the inside wall of the colon and rectum when no gastrointestinal (GI) problems are present. A polyp is a growth that is not cancerous in the colon. However, these might turn into cancer later. Detecting and removing these polyps and any cancerous growths could help avoid issues as well as death because of colorectal cancer.
Our experienced GI physicians routinely perform screenings for colon cancer for Houston, TX residents. To arrange for a screening, feel free to contact Gastroenterology Consultants today.
What are the benefits of colorectal cancer screenings?
Routine screenings for colon and rectal cancer are very important to your general and gastrointestinal health. Several benefits of colorectal cancer screenings include:
- Diagnose other gastrointestinal issues, like IBD
- Identify and extract polyps in the rectum and colon
- Potentially prevent colon cancer from developing
- Possibly identify colon or rectal cancer earlier
- May save your life
Cancer of the colon or rectum may not present signs or symptoms until it advances. Scheduling screenings regularly can help your doctor detect any issues as early as possible.
What colon cancer screening options are available?
Individuals are urged to speak to their GI specialist at Gastroenterology Consultants about when to schedule a colon cancer screening and which tests are recommended. The tests listed below may be used to screen for colon cancer:
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscopy is used to view the inner rectum and lower colon. A tube about the size of a finger with a camera attached (called a sigmoidoscope) will enter the rectum, and images will be taken of the inside wall as well as some of the colon. The sigmoidoscopy might also be used to take a biopsy of the polyp or tumor or to get rid of polyps if they're found. Keep in mind that a colonoscopy will need to be completed to see the whole colon and extract all polyps and tumors. This procedure is relatively safe but there is a small chance of a bowel tear, bleeding, and infection.
- Colonoscopy: A colonoscope is somewhat like a sigmoidoscope, but it is longer and used to view the inside of the entire colon. It is put in through your rectum and the GI specialist can see the images of the entire colon on the monitor. Specific tools may be passed through the colonoscope to take the biopsy and remove polyps. Sedation will be required. There is a small risk of the bowel tearing, bleeding, and infection due to the procedure.
- Virtual colonoscopy: This is a computed tomography scan of your colon. The patient is asked to lie on the treatment table, where our CT scanner will take detailed images of their colon. It is a noninvasive technique and does not call for sedation. If we find any abnormalities, a colonoscopy will have to be performed to extract the polyps or tumors.
- Double-contrast barium enema: A small tube is inserted into the rectum and barium sulfate, a white chalky liquid, will be pumped into the colon along with a small amount of air. The barium suspension lines the outer walls of your colon. X-ray images of your colon will then be taken to show any abnormalities on the inner wall of your colon. If any abnormalities are identified, a colonoscopy needs to be done to remove the polyps or tumors.
- Fecal test: These are done with a fecal sample and are totally safe. These tests may not give confirmatory results but might suggest abnormalities in your GI tract, necessitating further testing. A colonoscopy needs to be performed if your results are positive, suggesting cancerous growths in your colon.
Our Houston, TX gastroenterologists offer three types of fecal tests:
- Fecal occult blood tests that can detect blood in your feces not visible to the eye through a chemical reaction.
- Fecal immunochemical tests detect blood through a specific immunochemical reaction of protein in the blood and is often able to detect nonvisible blood.
- Stool DNA tests identify certain abnormal/irregular DNA genes in the cells discarded from cancerous growths or polyps in your stool sample.
Who might be at risk for colorectal cancer?
- Women with a history of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer
- People who have inherited familial adenomatous polyposis, a condition where individuals develop a number of polyps in the colon and rectum
- Patients with an inactive lifestyle, bad eating habits, or who smoke
- People 45 and older
- Patients who have close family members such as parents, siblings, or children who have or had colon cancer
- Individuals who had colon cancer earlier in their life
- Patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
Schedule a colon cancer screening today
Regular screenings are essential for detecting or preventing colorectal cancer in its early stages. If you are over 45 years old or have had additional factors that increase your chances of colon cancer, you might want to schedule a colorectal cancer screening. A board-certified group of GI doctors who function with a patient-first outlook, Gastroenterology Consultants employs state-of-the-art technology to support your digestive health. For more information about receiving a colon cancer screening in Houston, TX, contact our facility today.
Colon Cancer Screening FAQs
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.