No one likes to hear the word “cancer”. But it is wise to educate yourself about colon cancer because early detection is critical in fighting any type of cancer. Colon cancer is preventable 90% of the time when it is detected in the early stages. The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women begin having regular screening for colorectal cancer at the age of 50. By having a colonoscopy performed every 10 years in patients over the age of 50 the risk of colon cancer decreases as much as 95%. Your doctor may recommend you have a colonoscopy more often. He/she will discuss with each patient what their needs are and help you decide how often you should have a colonoscopy.
You may be asking yourself what exactly is colorectal cancer. Well, this type of cancer develops in the tissues of the colon and/or rectum. Both the colon and rectum are located in the lower part of the gastrointestinal (digestive) system. Together they form the large intestine (large bowel). The colon’s function is to absorb food and water and to store waste. The rectum’s function is to pass waste from the body.
Though both colon cancer and rectal cancer can be referred to as colorectal cancer, the difference is made according to where the cancer actually begins. When cancer forms in the first four to five feet of the large intestine it is usually referred to as colon cancer. Rectal cancer is the term used when cancer forms in the rectum (the last several inches of the large intestine).
Having a colonoscopy performed helps to find polyps (a growth of tissue) that may be in the colon or rectum. If not detected polyps may slowly grow through some or all of the layers of the intestines. A particular type of polyp, called an adenoma, can then develop into cancer. Not all polyps are cancerous but it is important to have a colonoscopy to ensure you do not have one that is cancerous.
The doctors at Outpatient Services East know that every colorectal cancer patient is different. They have the experience needed to perform your colonoscopy and educate you about the risk factors of colorectal cancer. It is important that you know and understand what preventative measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of developing the disease.
Because it is so important the staff at Outpatient Services East wants to stress again how important it is to know the risk factors for colorectal cancer. Remember as stated above early detection of colorectal cancer makes the treatment of the disease easier and more successful. However, in the early stages of colorectal cancer the symptoms may be minimal or there may be no symptoms present. This is another reason regular screening is recommended and should be part of your health plan if you are over 50 years of age. For those under 50 years of age with a family history of colorectal cancer (or if you have other risk factors) please talk with your doctor about when you should start regular screening.
If the staff at Outpatient Services East can answer any questions for you feel free to give us a call at 205-838-3888. You may also visit us on the web at www.osesurg.com.