421 School Street, Suite 110, Tomball, Texas 77375
Phone: 281-357-1977 | Fax: 281-357-1057 | info@gicentertexas.com

Office Hours: Mon - Fri 9am-5-pm

Colon Cancer Screening

Colon Cancer Screening


What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal (large bowel) cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Together, the colon and rectum make up the large bowel or large intestine. The large intestine is the last segment of the digestive system (the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine are the first three sections). The large bowel's main job is to reabsorb water from the contents of the intestine so that solid waste can be expelled into the toilet. The first several feet of the large intestine is the colon and the last 6 inches is the rectum.

Most colon and rectal cancers originate from benign wart-like growths on the inner lining of the colon or rectum called polyps. Not all polyps have the potential to transform into cancer. Those that do have the potential are called adenomas. It takes more than 10 years in most cases for an adenoma to develop into cancer. This is why some colon cancer prevention tests are effective even if done at 10-year intervals. This 10-year interval is too long, in some cases, such as in persons with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's colitis, and in persons with a strong family history of colorectal cancer or adenomas.

How common is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer killer overall and third most common cause of cancer-related death in the United States in both males and females. Lung and prostate cancers are more common in men and lung and breast in women. In 2007, there will be 153,000 new cases and 52,000 deaths from colorectal cancer.

What is screening for colorectal cancer?

Screening means looking for cancer or polyps when patients have no symptoms. Finding colorectal cancer before symptoms develop dramatically improves the chance of survival. Identifying and removing polyps before they become cancerous actually prevents the development of colorectal cancer.

Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

Symptoms of colorectal cancer vary depending on the location of the cancer within the colon or rectum, though there may be no symptoms at all. The prognosis tends to be worse in symptomatic as compared to asymptomatic individuals. The most common presenting symptom of colorectal cancer is rectal bleeding. Cancers arising from the left side of the colon generally cause bleeding, or in their late stages may cause constipation, abdominal pain, and obstructive symptoms. On the other hand, right-sided colon lesions may produce vague abdominal aching, but are unlikely to present with obstruction or altered bowel habit. Other symptoms such as weakness, weight loss, or anemia resulting from chronic blood loss may accompany cancer of the right side of the colon. You should promptly see your doctor when you experience any of these symptoms.

Why should you get checked for colorectal cancer even if you have no symptoms?

Adenomas can grow for years and transform into cancer without producing any symptoms. By the time symptoms develop, it is often too late to cure the cancer, because it may have spread. Screening identifies cancers earlier and actually results in cancer prevention when it leads to removal of adenomas (pre-cancerous polyps).

What tests are available for screening?

Several options are available for screening average-risk persons.

What else can I do to prevent the development of colorectal cancer?

Recent observations suggest regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or aspirin, reduce the chances of colorectal cancer death by 30-50%. These drugs also have risks, particularly intestinal bleeding, and patients should consult their physician as to whether regular use of these agents is appropriate. Folate, calcium, and post-menopausal estrogens each have a modest protective benefit against colon cancer. A high fiber (vegetables) and low fat diet, regular exercise, maintenance of normal body weight and cessation of smoking are also beneficial. None of the measures is as effective as or should replace colorectal cancer screening.

If you are 50 or older or 40 and older with family history, and you haven't been screened for colon cancer, please don't wait. Call us at 281-357-1977 to schedule your screening. It can save your life.

Colon Cancer You Can Prevent It - Consumer Guide


421 School Street, Suite 110, Tomball, Texas 77375 | Phone: 281-357-1977 | Fax: 281-357-1057 | info@gicentertexas.com
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