Colon Cancer

coloncancer-awarenessColon Cancer Awareness

Did you know that colon cancer is the second leading terminal cancer in both men and women? Did you know that 90% of colon cancer can be prevented by a simple screening procedure called a colonoscopy?

Colon is the large bowel where stool is stored. The colon is directly visualized by a simple technique called a colonoscopy, where a lighted tube in introduced inside the colon for visualization. Whether small or large, polyps or “growths” inside the colon can be visualized with careful inspection of the colon.

coloncancer-awareness2At the time of a colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist will remove polyps that if left untreated, could potentially become cancer.

Often time patients ask me…why should I get a colonoscopy if I’m doing fine and have no symptoms?

Well, that is a great question. Polyps which predispose you to colon cancer, are usually asymptomatic or show no symptoms. At the time of a screening colonoscopy, these polyps are removed, and never have a chance to advance into cancer. Therefore, it is important to get a screening colonoscopy before you have symptoms and prevent cancer.

Even if you have colon cancer, if found in an early stage, a simple surgery removing that small piece of colon can be curative.

 

Here are the guidelines:

Fist colonoscopy should be performed at age 50 for both Men and Women, but if you’re African American, your first one should be done at age 45.

If you have a first degree relative with colon cancer, the colonoscopy will have to be done 10 years prior to the index case or at age 40, whichever comes first.

Example: If your relative was 45 at the time of diagnosis, you would be due at age 35. If your relative was diagnosed at age 55, then you would be due at age 40.

 

This picture demonstrates how a polyp is removed by a snare and cautery:

coloncancer-awaremess3

 

Symptoms of colon cancer include:

If you have abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, anemia, unintended weight loss, change in the bowel habits, please talk to your primary physician about referral for a diagnostic colonoscopy to rule out cancer.