People get terrified whenever they hear the word cancer. And it’s no wonder since so many people are dying from it. However, cancer is not necessarily a death sentence. If you detect it early, there’s a big chance you’ll be able to fight it off. That applies to all types of cancers, including colon cancer. When it comes to the latter, regular screening is vital. That means that you look for signs of cancer before developing any symptoms. The truth is that once you start showing symptoms, things get a bit more complicated. Thus, if your doctor wants you to get a colonoscopy or any other screening test, don’t give it a second thought. Just do it. Now, to better understand why this is so important, here’s all you should know about screening for colorectal cancer.


What is colorectal cancer?

Before diving into all, you should know about screening for colorectal cancer, let’s start by understanding the disease. Your large intestine includes the colon and the rectum. Its primary purpose is to absorb the remaining nutrients and water from food after it has gone through the small intestine. Then, the remaining waste is transported into the rectum and eliminated through the anus. Usually, colon cancer is caused by abnormal growths (colon polyps) on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Once the cancer is present, it grows through the layers of the colon wall. From there, it can spread throughout the body. However, you should know that not all colon polyps develop colon cancer.


All you should know about screening for colorectal cancer

One of the significant concerns regarding colorectal cancer is the large number of people diagnosed with it. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, colorectal cancer is the third most frequent cancer worldwide. Therefore, screening and early detection are crucial.


Types of screening for colorectal cancer

Currently, there are two significant types of screening for colorectal cancer: stool sample tests and vision screening tests.


The stool sample tests

The stool sample tests are a minimally invasive type of screening. In this case, the screening can include the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and the fecal immunochemical test (FIT). These tests look for blood in the stool, which can indicate the presence of colon polyps or cancer. The problem here is that blood in the stool can be a sign of many other medical conditions. Therefore, doing a stool DNA test is better. This test analyzes the DNA for particular markers and polyp cells.

A lab technician analyzing a sample using a microscope.

Stool screening tests are the least invasive.

The visual screening tests

The visual screening tests entail a doctor using specific devices to look for abnormal growths inside your colon. Thus, they are more invasive but also more precise. Here are the most common visual screening tests:

  • A colonoscopy is a procedure during which the doctor guides a thin, flexible tube through the colon. At the end of this tube, t camera and light enable the doctor to screen the colon visually. In case of abnormalities, the doctor can pass special instruments through the tube to collect samples or remove polyps. By removing the polyps, you can prevent colorectal cancer.
  • A flexible sigmoidoscopy is very similar to a colonoscopy. The difference is that the tube used is shorter. Thus, it only screens the rectum and the lower part of the colon. However, the doctor can remove polyps and collect samples like a colonoscopy.
  • For various medical reasons, a CT colonography is used for people who cannot have a colonoscopy, for various medical reasons. During this procedure, the doctor inserts a small tube inside the rectum and slowly inflates the colon using air. Afterward, the doctor uses special X-ray equipment to produce images of the colon. These images are subsequently analyzed and interpreted.
A doctor who can perform screening tests for colorectal cancer.

All you should know about screening for colorectal cancer is that it can save your life.

Screening recommendations

As a general rule, doctors highly recommend regular screening for colorectal cancer from the age of 45. However, statistics show that colorectal cancer rates have also increased in younger adults. And this is very concerning since the cause of this increase is yet unknown. Furthermore, some people present a much higher risk than others. Therefore, these people should get tested earlier and more frequently:

  • Men are more prone than women to develop colorectal cancer.
  • Certain racial groups present a much higher risk. These include Afro-Americans, Native Americans, and Alaska Natives.
  • People with a history of or a family history of colorectal cancer present a significant
  • People with unhealthy lifestyles are prone to various medical conditions, including colorectal cancer.

But regardless of your age or risk factors, you should always consult with your doctor first. A professional who knows your medical history will give you the best advice. Furthermore, your doctor has the knowledge and experience to recommend the best screening method for you.


Ways to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer

Unfortunately, you cannot do anything about your age or medical history. However, you can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by making better lifestyle choices. As you probably know, smoking and alcohol consumption can cause many health issues, including colorectal cancer. Therefore, you should quit these nasty habits.

One of the best lifestyle choices you can make is to become more active. Studies show that regular exercise can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should exert yourself, particularly if you’re over 50, because this could lead to other serious health issues. Thus, the consultants from advise you to hire help for strenuous activities such as moving. So, just take walks, use the stairs more often, and do house chores. 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise should be enough.

A man staying active by jogging.

Becoming more active can lower the risk of colorectal cancer.


Final thoughts

Nobody likes to think about cancer. Some people refuse to get tested because they are terrified of the possible results. However, this is a huge mistake. Early detection of any type of cancer can save your life. And this also applies to colorectal cancer. So, now that you know all you should know about screening for colorectal cancer, it’s time to consult with your doctor. And if your doctor recommends getting tested, don’t hesitate to do it.

Ready to schedule your Colonoscopy in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati?  Tri-State Gastroenterology Associates is a physician-owned and independent practice founded in 1982. Our team of Top Doctors, nurses, and medical assistants live in this community and care for this community. We serve patients living in the Tri-State Area and are in the network with most insurance plans.

It is our mission “To provide compassionate, high quality, cost-effective care to patients with gastrointestinal related problems.”