Who Should Be Screened for Colorectal Cancer?


How can you keep your colon healthy? You are certainly not alone if you're questioning where to begin when it comes to maintaining your colon health. Exercise, a well-balanced diet, and preventive health screenings are some of the ways to maintain your health as you age.

Colorectal cancer is among the most widespread yet preventable cancers, thanks to the screenings available for identifying the disease. Taking charge of your colorectal health could be as simple as requesting a visit at Washington Gastroenterology. Our experienced GI specialists can help guide you down the path toward a future of health. Read on as our Washington team explains why colon cancer screenings are so important and when to start getting them.

Why are colon cancer screenings essential?

As reported by the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer affects the lives of around 4% of women and men in the U.S., which is about 1 out of every 25 people. The good news is that colorectal cancer is avoidable if caught in the initial stages.

In most instances, colorectal cancers begin as a growth (cluster of cellular material) on the internal lining of the large intestine (colon) or rectum. These growths are known as polyps. It is uncommon to experience symptoms when you have polyps, making examinations crucial for identifying them. When you schedule routine exams, you’re helping protect your general and GI health by having those growths removed before they turn cancerous. It is also imperative to arrange for a colon cancer screening should you have one or more of the following symptoms:

What makes colon cancer so common?

Although it isn't clear why colon cancer has increased in prevalence over the years, a few factors may contribute to the occurrence of this disease. Being informed and knowing the risk factors associated with this cancer can help you stay mindful and make good decisions for your future health. Some of the risk factors for colon and rectal cancer include:

  • Family history of colon or rectal cancer
  • A prior history of colorectal cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)
  • A diet that includes a lot of processed meat
  • A low-fat and high-fat diet
  • A diet lacking in fruits and vegetables
  • Inadequate amount of exercise
  • Tobacco use

We invite you to request a consultation with one of our Washington Gastroenterology specialists. Our staff can help you learn more about colorectal cancer and how to remain on the path toward a healthier future.

How often should I undergo a colorectal cancer test?

You should undergo an initial colon screening starting at age 45 if you’re at normal risk for developing colon or rectal cancer and then every decade as you age. The risk of developing polyps and colon cancer grows with age, which means the more colon cancer tests you undergo, the earlier a concern can be caught. Once you turn 75, you’ll need a screening based on your general health condition and your gastroenterologist's recommendations.

It's essential to understand that having a family history or personal history of colon or rectal cancer or polyps puts you at a significantly higher risk. Should you fall into this significant high risk category, you’ll likely need to undergo a colonoscopy at least once every five years. It's much better to know the status of your colon health than to question whether you should arrange a GI visit. A standard evaluation for colorectal cancer, better known as a colonoscopy, generally takes less than an hour to complete. This evaluation is an excellent way to determine your colon health and any modifications you might need to make to keep your colon in good health.

Schedule a colon cancer screening in Washington

Colon cancer screenings can help protect your future health and wellness. The American Cancer Society reports that about 144,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed every year. Fight that statistic today by requesting a colon cancer screening at Washington Gastroenterology. If you have concerns or questions about the test, don't hesitate to discuss them with your gastrointestinal specialist during your consultation. Contact our Washington team today to learn more.