Did you know that colorectal cancer is a highly preventable disease? Yet despite medical advancements that allow doctors to stop colorectal cancer before it starts, colon cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the US.
The good news is that a simple colon cancer screening can save your life. At the Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida, gastroenterologist John M. Rivas, MD, is committed to raising awareness about colorectal cancer and the life-saving power of screenings.
Some people put off a colorectal cancer screening because they don’t have the facts about what’s involved and what you can expect. Our team has gathered what you need to know about colorectal cancer screenings — including why they might be easier than you think. Read on to learn more.
Why are colorectal cancer screenings important?
Your risk of developing colon cancer rises with age. In fact, about 95% of colon cancer patients are over the age of 45. Unfortunately, this disease kills tens of thousands of Americans every year and is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women in America.
The good news is that colorectal cancer screenings can prevent colon and rectal cancer. In fact, screening makes colorectal cancer one of the most preventable types of cancer. What’s more? When caught early with a screening, colorectal cancer is highly treatable.
Who needs a colorectal cancer screening?
Everyone needs a colorectal cancer screening.
The American Cancer Society and the Colorectal Cancer Alliance agree that screening for colorectal cancer should begin at 45 for most Americans. If you have a family history or additional risk factors, Dr. Rivas may recommend an initial screening earlier.
Other than age, risk factors for colon cancer include:
- Diet — eating red and processed meats
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
- Being overweight or obese
- Smoking tobacco
- Drinking alcohol
- Having a family history or inherited gene
- Having a history of digestive health disorders
Researchers have also discovered a link between poor overall health and increased risk for colorectal cancers, including having had other cancers, having type 2 diabetes, or having had radiation therapy.
What’s involved in a colorectal cancer screening?
There are different types of colorectal cancer screening methods. Each method has pros and cons and different guidelines for how often the screening should be completed. Different screening options include:
- Fecal occult blood screening, to detect hidden blood in your stool
- Stool DNA screening, to check for abnormal DNA and blood in your stool
- Double contrast barium enema, to look for polyps or tumors on an X-ray
- Colonoscopy uses a tube and camera to detect polyps
To understand which type of screening is best for you, schedule an evaluation at the Rivas Digestive Center. Dr. Rivas assesses your risk factors and any symptoms to determine which screening and frequency schedule is best for you.
Here’s a closer look at the two most popular options:
Fecal tests don’t require any special preparation and can be completed in the comfort of your own home. They aren’t as accurate as colonoscopies, however, and if blood is detected, you may need a colonoscopy for a full diagnosis and to remove any pre-cancerous polyps. You’ll need to complete a fecal screening every year.
Colonoscopies offer the best detection and allow Dr. Rivas to remove pre-cancerous polyps, helping to prevent cancer from developing. The procedure is safe and simple and only needs to be completed every 5-10 years, but it does require dietary restrictions before the procedure to “clean out” your colon.
Don’t put off your colorectal cancer screening. Contact the Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida, at 954-228-5882 for more information about diagnosing or treating colon cancer, or book an appointment online now.