Colon Cancer Screening in Connecticut

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What is a screening for colon cancer?

Colorectal cancer is typically one of the more curable cancers. The colon and rectum are part of the large intestine, which absorbs water and nutrients from digested food and holds solid waste before it is expelled from the body.

A colon cancer screening checks for polyps and cancer on the inner wall of the rectum and colon when no gastrointestinal issues exist. A polyp is a growth that is not cancerous in the colon. However, some of these could become cancer later on. Early detection and removal of colorectal polyps and any cancerous tumors could reduce the risk of difficulties and/or death due to colorectal cancer.

Our expert gastroenterologist specialists routinely perform screenings for colon cancer in Connecticut individuals. To arrange for a colon cancer screening, feel free to contact a Connecticut GI location near you.

Routine screenings for colon and rectal cancer are important to your overall and GI health. Some of the benefits of colon cancer screenings include:

  • Possibly catch colorectal cancer in the earlier stages
  • Detect and extract polyps in the rectum and colon
  • Possibly prevent the development of colon cancer
  • Identify other gastrointestinal concerns, like inflammatory bowel disease
  • Can be a life-saving exam

Colorectal cancer may not show signs or symptoms until the advanced stages. Undergoing screenings on a regular basis can help your provider detect any concerns or conditions as soon as possible.

What are the available colon cancer screening options?

Your GI specialist will recommend how often you should be screened and what tests you should have. The following tests could be suggested for a colorectal cancer screening:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscopy is used to examine the inside of the rectum and lower colon. A tube about the size of a finger with a camera (sigmoidoscope) is placed into your rectum, and images will be taken of the inside wall as well as some of the colon. It might also be used so we can take a biopsy of the tumor or polyp and extract some polyps. Keep in mind a colonoscopy will need to be completed to view the entire colon and extract all tumors and polyps. This procedure is generally pretty safe, but there is a small chance of bowel tearing, bleeding, and infection.
  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscope is like a sigmoidoscope, but it is longer and is used to review the inner wall of the whole colon. It is put in through the rectum, and the GI specialist can see the images of the entire colon on our computer system. Specific tools can be introduced into the colonoscope to complete the biopsy and extract polyps. Sedation will be applied. There is a minimal chance of bowel tears, bleeding, or infection occurring after the procedure.
  • Virtual colonoscopy: Virtual colonoscopy is a computed tomography scan of your colon. The person is asked to lie on the table where our CT scanner will take detailed images of the colon. This is a noninvasive treatment and doesn't call for sedation. If any abnormalities are found, a colonoscopy will need to be done to remove the tumors or polyps.
  • Double-contrast barium enema: A little tube is placed into your rectum, and barium sulfate, a white chalky liquid, and air will be pumped into your colon. The barium suspension will line the outer walls of your colon. x-rays of your colon will then be taken to show any abnormalities on the inner wall of your colon. If abnormalities are identified, a colonoscopy will be required to extract the tumors or polyps.
  • Fecal test: These are done with the fecal sample and are very safe. These tests might not give confirmatory results but may suggest abnormalities in the GI tract, necessitating more tests. A colonoscopy needs to be performed if the results are positive, meaning a cancerous growth in the colon.

Our Connecticut gastroenterologists offer three variations of fecal tests:

  • Fecal occult blood tests detect blood in your feces that is not visible to normal eyes through a chemical reaction.
  • Fecal immunochemical tests detect blood through a certain protein-chemical reaction in your blood and can find nonvisible blood.
  • Stool DNA tests look for specific abnormal/irregular DNA genes in the cells discarded from a cancerous outgrowth or polyps in the stool sample.

Who could be at risk for colon cancer?

Some factors may put an individual at increased risk of developing colon cancer. A few of these risk factors include:

  • People with familial adenomatous polyposis, a condition where individuals develop many polyps in their colon and rectum
  • People with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • Patients who had colon cancer previously
  • People with a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, or who smoke
  • Individuals with close family members such as parents, siblings, or children who have or had colon cancer
  • Patients over 45 years of age
  • Individuals with a previous history of ovarian, uterine, or breast cancer

Schedule a colon cancer screening today

With regular checks, colorectal cancer is often easy to detect and prevent in the early stages. If you are 45 years old or older or have had other conditions that increase your risk of colon cancer, you may eligible to schedule a colon cancer screening. A physician-led group of GI providers with a patient-centered mentality, Connecticut GI utilizes leading technology to maintain your digestive health. For more information about receiving a colorectal cancer screening in Connecticut, contact our facility soon.

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Why is having routine colon cancer screenings important?

Colon cancer typically starts from growths in the large intestine (colon) or rectum known as polyps. During a colonoscopy, these premalignant growths can be removed to help reduce the risk of and possibly prevent the development of this cancer. Having regular screenings for colon cancer can also allow doctors to diagnose cancer that is already present. If colorectal cancer is detected in the early stages, it can be simpler to address.

At what age should I begin undergoing colon cancer screenings?

Individuals who have an average risk for colon cancer should begin having routine screenings for colorectal cancer upon turning age 45. People who carry a higher risk might require earlier screenings. Your GI specialist can help you determine at what age you should begin undergoing screenings for colorectal cancer.

How often should you get a colon cancer screening?

The frequency with which people should undergo colon cancer exams may depend on the type of test being performed. Typically, adults who are 45 and over should undergo a colonoscopy screening every decade when they are at average risk of developing colorectal cancer and experience colonoscopy results that are within normal limits. Individuals who carry a significantly high risk are advised to have colonoscopy exams a minimum of once every five years. To determine how frequently you should arrange for screening exams for colorectal cancer, please speak with your GI doctor.

How can I prep for a colorectal cancer screening?

The best method of prepping for a colon cancer screening will vary according to the type of screening scheduled. With a colonoscopy screening, detailed instructions on how to prepare, including how to clear out your bowel, will be provided by your GI team before your scheduled procedure. Your doctor may also provide other instructions to follow in the days prior to your exam. It is imperative to follow your provider's instructions to help ensure they can find any areas of concern during your screening.

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