Colon Cancer - What Are Different Screening Options?

Over 100,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer each year, but experts say, if more people got screened appropriately, it could make a dramatic difference. “People don't know that colon cancer is a very preventable in most people. many people think of mammos and pap smears and psa’s but actually those are detecting cancer that's already there.” “There are a lot of different ways to do cc screening and really you just need to do something.” There are a few different options to ask your doctor about. “One of the tried and true measures is plain old hemoccult cards and its relatively easy to do and cheap to do. the accuracy that you have is not quite as good with the newer types of studies that you might have.” *Another option is flexible sigmoidoscopy- using a small lighted tube to examine your rectum and last two feet of your colon. The downside is that it doesn’t examine the entire colon and could potentially miss some lesions. Experts say colonoscopy is the gold standard screening for many reasons- it examines the entire colon and any suspicious polyps can be removed during the exam. "One of the other things we worry about it are lesions that are flat particularly in the right colon and if you have a ct performed it may not catch those. it may even be hard to detect by colonoscopy. That's why the preparation is so important- don't skip that last glass of prep because it may mean the difference between finding that lesion and not. " Virtual colonoscopy may be another potential screening option. "One of those has been virtual colonoscopy and that is where we use ct scan to generate a virtual image of the colon and that is where the radiologist or gastro can look for polyps. the good part about it is it doesn't involve a sedation procedure like colonoscopy. but there have been some drawback including radiation exposure and there has been some question about what to do with small polyps whether people need a colonoscopy for suspicion of a polyp or whether they are missing small polyps that might be significant." People with a family history of colon cancer should talk to their doctor about when to start screening. “If you have no family history of colon cancer, then it's recommended colon cancer screening at 50 because the rates increase as we get older, so we try to pick it up when its actually at the polyp stage and before we actually get to cancer. 1;39:21 there is a very strong suggestion that aa need to start at an earlier age especially if they are diabetic” Though you might be embarrassed to have any type of screening done or worried about it being uncomfortable, screening is crucial to detect any pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions before they spread. "The good news is that mortality from cc has been decreasing over past few years, and part of that is earlier detection, but also the medications we are using to treat cc. so if you do have it you could be treated and do very well." For more information on colon cancer screening or treatment call MUSC Health at 792-1414.