National Colorectal Awareness Month: Who Should Get a Colonoscopy?
December 3, 2023
Colorectal cancer is 4th most common cancer and 2nd most fatal cancer, making it a deadly killer in the United States. Colon cancer typically manifests on the large intestine or the colon, the last part of the digestive system. Some individuals are more at risk for colorectal cancer than others, but anyone is at risk for developing cancerous growths (or polyps) on their large intestines after age 45.
A screening is a medical test used to search for signs of cancer within the body. Common Colorectal screening tests include colonoscopies, FIT tests, and others. Colorectal cancer can be diagnosed and treated after the cancerous polyps have been discovered or removed in some cases.
In this blog, we’ll go over four reasons why getting Colorectal screening is important, who should get screened, and how the process works. To schedule your Colonoscopy at the Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute contact us online or call us today at 205-537-8629.
Reason 1: The Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer Are Common
Non-controllable Risk factors
There are both controllable and noncontrollable risk factors for Colorectal cancers.
Age: After the age of 45 most individuals are automatically at risk for developing cancerous polyps on their large intestines. The age used to be 50, but new science is showing that by 50, the polyps may have already been present for some time.
Family history: Those with close relatives such as parents, siblings, or children with colorectal cancer are at a much higher risk of also developing it. If this is the case, it’s recommended to get screened earlier than the usual recommended age of 45.
Personal History: If you’ve had a medical history with colorectal polyps you’ll have an increased risk of rediscovering new growth. Conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease can also lead to higher risk.
Controllable Risk Factors
Diet: Those who are overweight have a higher rate of getting diagnosed from colon and rectal cancers. Certain diets filled with red meats and highly-processed foods can put you at risk as well. We recommend eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Exercise: A sedentary lifestyle is a common risk factor for many illnesses, including colon and rectal cancer. Staying active can put you at a lower risk and have tremendous benefits to your colon health.
Smoking and Alcohol Consumption: Heavy alcohol use and smoking are often linked to Colorectal cancers. Avoiding these habits can lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer later in life.
Reason 2: Screenings Are Safe & Fast
There are two types of screenings for colon and rectal cancers. The first is a colon visualization test that looks within the large intestine for signs of colon cancer and can include stool based tests.
The most popular screening method is the colonoscopy. It’s considered to be the gold standard for colon and rectal screening because of its effectiveness in discovering colorectal cancer. . A colonoscopy allows for direct visualization of the lining of the colon.
The process for a colonoscopy involves one day of light fasting to prepare the large intestine for screening. When the patient reaches the doctor's office, they’ll be given anesthesia and sleep through the remainder of the procedure.
While the patient is under anesthesia, the doctor will insert a long flexible tube with a camera into the large intestine and look for any cancerous polyps. After the colonoscopy is completed you’ll be able to eat regularly again, and if no polyps are found you won’t need a screening again for another ten years.
Reason 3: Screenings Locate Early Stages of Cancer Before They Grow
Getting a screening at an early age can be crucial in catching non-cancerous polyps before they become cancerous. In fact, doctors are able to remove polyps during the screening process. If your provider discovers polyps in the early stages, you may be cancer-free after only one visit.
Reason 4: Screenings Can Save Your Life
Colon and rectal cancers are a threat to millions of lives and screenings are the number one line of defense to discover, diagnose and treat them. Studies show the risk of colorectal cancer was lower among patients who underwent a screening colonoscopy after ten years than among those who were assigned to no screening.
It’s worth coming to the doctor for a quick and stress-free colonoscopy—it could save your life.
Call the Alabama Colon and Rectal Institute to Schedule Your Colonoscopy Today!
Colorectal cancer can be discovered and treated early with cancer screenings, so don’t wait to schedule yours! For more than 30 years, our dedicated team has provided screenings and treatment for colon, anal, and rectal ailments. We utilize state-of-the-art medical technology and techniques for comfortable and effective treatment. Call us at 205-537-8639 or contact us online today!