Colon Cancer Screening To Find Cancer While It's Early
Colon cancer starts as polyps in your colon. Polyps tend to grow slowly, so the cancer could grow for years without you having symptoms. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have metastasized and become more difficult to treat. Fortunately, there's a solution. Cancer screening and colonoscopies can catch cancer early so the polyps can be removed before the cancer spreads. Here's what you should know about colon cancer.
Ask Your Doctor When To Start Screening
The recommended age for screening depends on your family history and other risk factors you may have for cancer. It's best to have annual physical examinations from your doctor and to ask them if it's time to start colon cancer screening. Your doctor considers your health, family history, and age when advising you when to start screening.
Initially, screening may be done through a stool test, but when you get older, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy to look for polyps and cancer. If a stool test suggests you might have cancer, your doctor's next step may be to order a colonoscopy.
A Colonoscopy Finds And Removes Polyps
One of the benefits of a colonoscopy is the doctor can remove polyps as they find them. This is important since removing a polyp in the early stages of cancer can prevent cancer from spreading. A colonoscopy may not sound like a pleasant experience, but it's important for your health and peace of mind.
If your doctor doesn't find any polyps, then you know you have a lower risk of developing colon cancer. However, polyps can develop at any time, so repeat screening is usually necessary as you age.
Colon Cancer May Require Conventional Treatments
If your cancer is advanced by the time it's discovered, simply removing the polyps may not be enough to cure the disease. If the disease has spread through your colon, you may need surgery to remove part of your colon. If cancer has spread through your body, you could need radiation or chemotherapy to help kill or control the cancer.
Sometimes, treatments are needed to control pain rather than as an attempt at a cure. The more advanced cancer is, the harder it is to cure. When it's small, it can be cut out of your body along with the polyp.
When cancer has spread to other organs of your body, your treatments will probably be more intense and your outcome may not be as good. That's why it's important to ask your doctor about when you should start colon cancer screening and have your first colonoscopy.