Why You Should Get Screened for Colon and Rectal Cancer
What can you do to keep your colon in ideal health? You are certainly not alone if you have ever questioned where to begin when it comes to learning about your colon health. Adequate amounts of physical activity, a balanced diet, and regular health evaluations are some of the approaches you can take to help manage your health as you become older. Colon cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed but avoidable cancers thanks to the screenings that are available for identifying the disease. Learning about your colon health can be as simple as scheduling an appointment at Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Our gastrointestinal (GI) specialists in Indianapolis, IN can help you take the first step toward a future of health.
Why are colon and rectal cancer screenings essential?
Per the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer affects the lives of around 4% of adults in the U.S., which is about 1 out of every 25 people. The good news is that colon cancer can be avoided when caught in the beginning stages.
Most colon and rectal cancers arise as a growth (cluster of cellular material) on the inner lining of the large intestine (colon) or rectum. These growths are known as colorectal polyps. It is rare to have symptoms with polyps, which means that a colon cancer screening is critical for detecting them. With routine examinations, you can help maintain your GI and general health by having those growths removed before they become malignant. It is also vital, however, to arrange for a colorectal cancer screening if you have one or more of the following:
- Rectal bleeding
- Change in bathroom habits
- Change in stool color or form
- Abdominal pain
What makes colorectal cancer so prevalent?
While there is not a clear answer to why colorectal cancer has become more common over time, certain factors could elevate the risk of colorectal cancer. Keeping informed and becoming familiar with the risk factors for the disease can allow you to remain mindful and make good decisions for your health. Some of the risk factors for colon cancer are:
- A low-fat and high-fat diet
- A diet lacking fruits and vegetables
- Tobacco use
- Inadequate amount of physical activity
- A family history of colon cancer
- A diet that incorporates a high amount of processed meat
- A prior history of colorectal cancer
- Having inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)
We encourage you to schedule a consultation with an Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology gastrointestinal specialist. Our Indianapolis, IN staff can provide further information about colon and rectal cancer and how you might help guide yourself toward a healthier future.
How frequently should I undergo a colorectal cancer test?
It is recommended to have an initial colorectal screening beginning at 45 years of age when you have a standard risk for colon or rectal cancer and each decade following. The risk of polyps and colorectal cancer becomes greater with age. Therefore, the more colon cancer tests you have, the quicker a problem can be diagnosed. Starting at age 75, you will need to undergo screenings based on your general health status and your gastroenterologist's recommendations.
However, having a personal history or family history of colon polyps or colon cancer places you in the category of significantly higher risk. If you fall into this significant high risk group, it is likely that you will require a colonoscopy a minimum of once every five years. It is much better to understand the status of your colon health rather than to question if you should schedule a gastroenterology visit. A routine evaluation for colorectal cancer, or a colonoscopy, generally takes under an hour. This exam is a great way to determine your colon's current status and what changes you may need to make to keep your colon in good health moving forward.
Schedule your colon cancer screening in Indianapolis, IN today
A routine colon cancer screening can help protect your future health and wellness. The American Cancer Society reports that approximately 144,000 new colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed every year. Help minimize that statistic today by arranging for a colon cancer test at Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology. If you have concerns or questions about the test or your colon health, feel free to discuss them with your gastrointestinal specialist during your appointment at one of our Indianapolis, IN locations.