Ways To Screen For Colon Cancer So You Can Detect The Disease Early

Since colon cancer is such a common type of cancer, your doctor might recommend you get screened for it at some point. The exact age depends on your family history of colon cancer. If a parent or sibling had the disease, your doctor may recommend early screening and screening more often.

Screening is testing for early signs of the disease before you have symptoms. If your doctor recommends screening, it doesn't necessarily mean they think you have cancer. Instead, it's an opportunity to catch cancer early if you happen to have it. If your doctor suspects you have cancer, they will probably order other diagnostic tests.

Here are some types of colon cancer screening your doctor might recommend.

Stool Tests

Stool tests are done to detect blood in your stools. This type of test could pick up on cancer because cancer can make your intestines or polyps bleed. There are different types of stool tests and your doctor will determine the one to order and give you a kit to collect the sample. The sample is then tested in a lab to look for blood. A positive test doesn't mean you have cancer for sure, but it indicates more sophisticated testing could be warranted.

Scope Testing

Another type of colon cancer screening your doctor will probably recommend is a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy. These tests involve looking in your colon for polyps, which could be early indicators of cancer. If the doctor finds polyps, they can be removed during the test. If your colon is clear, you may not need to have the test repeated for several years, unless you have a family history of colorectal cancer.

Image Testing

A CT scan of the colon is also called a virtual colonoscopy. This test can detect growths in the colon, but since the doctor doesn't use an internal instrument, polyps can't be removed at the time the test is done. A virtual colonoscopy might be done if you can't tolerate a colonoscopy for medical reasons, but if polyps are found, they might need to be removed at a later time.

Your doctor can help you decide on the right time to start screening for colon cancer and the best way to do it. Early detection is the best way to treat cancer for the best outcome. Since polyps can turn into cancer, removing them before they become cancerous is a good way to stop cancer before it has a chance to spread. Plus, removing polys is much easier to endure than going through radiation and chemotherapy, so if you haven't been screened for colon cancer yet, you may want to discuss it with your doctor on your next visit.