Colon Cancer Screening
Congratulations on taking your first step towards optimal colon health
While talking about colon health may not be the most glamorous topic, it’s just as important as maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The colon (or large intestine) plays such a significant part in the digestion process, but often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. A clean and healthy colon can help prevent common gastrointestinal diseases and conditions and even colon cancer.
Keys to a healthy colon:
Here are a few things you can do to keep your colon healthy:
- Drink Fluids: The human body is primarily made up of water so it should come as no surprise that drinking the recommended amount of water each day would keep your entire body, including your colon, healthy and functioning properly.
- Bowel Movements: It is important to have 1-2 bowel movements each day. Your colon was not designed to hold onto waste materials for long amounts of time so eliminating them from your body regularly keeps your colon free of toxins and healthy.
- Fiber: Fiber is an integral part of maintaining a balanced diet. Fiber-rich foods such as beans, breads, some fruits (including prunes, pears and raspberries), nuts and seeds help keep the colon clean.
- Exercise: All of your organs and systems – not just the colon – benefit from daily exercise. Along with a balanced diet, daily exercise keeps your organs, bones, muscles and joints healthy.
- Colon Screening: One of the keys to prevention for colon diseases, including colorectal cancer, is early detection through screening especially if you are of high-risk. BayCare provides colonoscopy services at many locations.
About Colon Cancer Screening
The need for cancer screenings will increase as you get older. Screening differs from testing in that a screening is performed when someone is at risk for developing a disease, not when they exhibit symptoms. Once symptoms are present, diagnostic testing is performed.
Screening requirements are different for men and women, and will vary based on your age and any pre-existing conditions you have that may make you more susceptible to certain types of cancer. It is also important to determine if you may be at a higher than average risk for cancer due to your family history. By finding cancer early, you have the best chances of treating the condition before it spreads.
Talk to your doctor about your risk for colon cancer and the right time for you to undergo colon cancer screening. If you are in need of a physician, please fill out the form to the right and a member of our Customer Service Center will be in touch.
What screening options are available?
There are options when it comes to colon cancer screening. Talking to your doctor about your medical history and the need for certain tests is an important part of cancer prevention and early detection. While there may be standard recommendations regarding screenings at certain ages, it is important to stay in close communication with your doctor regarding the need for earlier screenings if you are at an increased risk.
If your doctor determines that you are at average-risk for developing colon cancer, there are alternatives to having a colonoscopy that are effective in identifying early signs of colon cancer. People 50 or older who have no relatives with colon cancer and no history of polyps are considered average risk.
Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)
A fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is performed annually and is effective in detecting hidden blood in the stool, an early sign of cancer. FIT only identifies blood from the lower intestines. Food and medicines do not interfere with FIT, improving accuracy and causing less false positive results than other tests. A positive FIT would lead to additional tests, including colonoscopy, to determine if cancer or some other causes like hemorrhoids or ulcers are causing the positive FIT.
A FIT can be done at home with a kit provided by a doctor’s office. Your sample will be sent to a lab for analysis.
A colonoscopy is an important screening examination for gastrointestinal disorders including rectal bleeding, abnormal bowel movements, diverticulosis, stomach pain and inflammatory bowel disease.
It is also a key test for detecting colon cancer and is considered the gold standard in colon cancer screening. The procedure allows a doctor, usually a gastroenterologist, to see and examine the entire colon. Along with imaging, a colonoscopy can also remove lesions or polyps.
Choosing the right test
Source: CDC http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/pdf/2013-11-vitalsigns.pdf
Both options require a referral from your doctor. If you need a doctor, fill out the form to the right to request an appointment or call (855) 314-8346.
Already scheduled a colonoscopy? Find out about the procedure and what to expect.