Or perhaps you’ve reached an age that makes this screening a smart move. Experts say if everyone ages 50 and older had regular colorectal cancer screenings, at least 60% of deaths from these cancers could be avoided.
“The majority of colorectal cancers begin with a polyp — a growth in the colon or rectal lining,” says Ali Mahmood, M.D., board certified, fellowship trained colon and rectal surgeon on staff at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “Many screening tests are aimed at finding these polyps so they can be removed before they become cancerous. Less commonly, cancer may develop from flat, slightly depressed areas of colon tissue, called nonpolypoid lesions. Some screening tests can detect these lesions, too.”
Be sure to discuss with your physician which screenings are best for you:
Colonoscopy. This test uses a thin, lighted instrument to view the inside of the entire colon and rectum. “If any precancerous polyps, growths, lesions or suspicious tissues are found we will remove them or take a biopsy at the same time,” says Gregory Shannon, M.D., board certified gastroenterologist with Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. This test requires preparation to thoroughly clean the colon and is typically performed under sedation. Uncommonly, bleeding, tearing or perforation of the colon lining may occur.
Virtual colonoscopy. This test uses computerized tomography (special X-rays) to assemble pictures of the colon and rectum into detailed images that can show abnormalities. Preparation to cleanse the colon is required; but the test is less invasive than a standard colonoscopy and doesn’t require sedation. But if the test finds something suspicious, you’ll need a traditional colonoscopy to confirm the finding and get a biopsy.
Sigmoidoscopy. “Using a lighted instrument, doctors view the rectum and lower colon lining. Polyps and other suspicious tissues may be removed or biopsied; however, growths in the upper colon would not be detected. Preparation to thoroughly clean the colon is required,” says Nitesh Vachhani, M.D., board certified gastroenterologist with Methodist Sugar Land Hospital.
Double contrast barium enema. “After giving you an enema of a barium solution, we introduce air into the colon,” says Dr. Vachhani. “Both the barium and the air provide contrast to help outline the colon and rectum and a series of X-rays are taken. This test will not allow for biopsies or removal of polyps as it is diagnostic only.”
Fecal occult blood tests (FOBT). These tests analyze a small stool sample to detect trace amounts of blood. Finding blood in the stool may indicate the presence of polyps or cancer.
Be sure to pick up your free colorectal screening kit at the Colorectal Cancer Awareness Seminar.
Join us for a free Colorectal Cancer Awareness Seminar presented by Dr. Ali Mahmood, Dr. Gregory Shannon and Dr. Nitesh Vachhani. Attendees will receive a free colorectal screening kit to take home. March 29, 6:30 p.m. Methodist Sugar Land — Conference Center. Call 281-274-7500 or email SLRSVP@tmhs.org to reserve a seat.