Regular screenings for colon cancer save lives. Of that there is no doubt. Early detection can find polyps before cancer invades them. The doctors at Piedmont Colorectal present the various options patients now have in colon cancer screening.
Colonoscopy remains the gold standard of colon cancer screening options, but many patients only need to undergo this particular screening if other screening methods detect potential cancer.
With this minimally invasive procedure, performed under sedation, the doctor can view the rectum and colon’s inner lining. The doctor can see the area via a lighted tube with a camera on the end, which is inserted into the rectum. Any polyps found are often removable during the colonoscopy.
Prior to a colonoscopy, patients must follow a special diet as well as go through a bowel prep, which cleanses the colon. The good news is that if the results come back fine, the person can wait another decade before undergoing a colonoscopy.
In some countries, a test similar to colonoscopy, known as flexible sigmoidoscopy, is performed on the lower third of the colon. In the U.S., this test is not that common.
Computed Tomography CAT Colonography
Patients must still go through the bowel prep with a CAT colonography, but sedation is not required. That makes this a good choice for those who should avoid undergoing anesthesia.
The CAT scan produces thorough images of the entire colon, so the doctor can see if polyps or cancer are present. These images appear on a computer screen. If either are found, a colonoscopy is necessary. Those with a clean scan should have another one done in five years.
Stool DNA Testing
DNA testing of a stool sample can reveal gene changes that may indicate precancerous or cancerous conditions. The procedure is simple — the patient takes a kit home, collects a sample, and then mails it in the special envelope included in the kit to a laboratory. Should something abnormal show up in the test, a follow-up colonoscopy is needed. Keep in mind that stool testing is best for those without colon cancer risk factors, such as a history of the disease in the family. Patients should have stool testing done as often as the doctor recommends.
For More Information, Arrange a Consultation
If you would like to learn more about screening options for colon cancer and the best choices for you, schedule a personal consultation with the Piedmont Colorectal team. There are pros and cons to each test, and you can make an informed decision. Contact our Atlanta practice to schedule an appointment.