Colon Cancer Screening in Washington
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What is a colon cancer screening?
Colorectal cancer is typically one of the more curable cancers. The rectum and colon are contained in the large intestine, which will absorb water and nutrients from digested food and holds waste before it is discharged from your body.
A colorectal cancer screening is simply checking for polyps and growths that could be cancerous on the inside wall of the colon and rectum when there aren't any GI issues present. A polyp is a growth in the colon that is not cancerous. However, some of these might grow into cancer later on. Early detection and removal of polyps and any cancerous tumors could help avoid issues or death resulting from colon cancer.
Our distinguished GI specialists often perform screenings for colon cancer for Washington residents. To request a colon cancer screening, contact your local Washington Gastroenterology today.
What are the benefits of a colon cancer screening?
Regular screenings for colon and rectal cancer are very important to your overall and gastrointestinal health. Several advantages of screenings for colon cancer are:
- Potentially find colorectal cancer earlier
- Potentially prevent colon cancer from developing
- Identify and excise polyps in the colon and rectum
- Detect other colon concerns, like IBD
- May save your life
Colon cancer may not present signs or symptoms until it progresses. Undergoing screenings on a regular basis can help your doctor identify any issues as soon as possible.
Are there colon cancer screening options?
Individuals should talk to their GI specialist at Washington Gastroenterology about when they should have a screening and what tests are suggested. Any of the tests listed below may be indicated for a colorectal cancer screening:
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscopy will be used to look at the inside of the rectum and lower colon. A tube about the size of a finger with a camera (called a sigmoidoscope) will enter the rectum, and images will be taken of the inner wall and some of your colon. It might also be used to biopsy the tumor or polyp and remove some polyps. Keep in mind a colonoscopy will need to be done to see the entire colon and extract all tumors or polyps. This procedure is generally pretty safe but has a slight chance of a bowel tear, bleeding, and infection.
- Colonoscopy: A colonoscope is similar to a sigmoidoscope, except it is longer and is used to examine the inner wall of the whole colon. It is placed through the rectum, and our GI specialist can see a full view of the colon on the monitor. Specific tools will be passed through the colonoscope to complete the biopsy and extract polyps. Sedation is required. There is a minimal chance of bowel tears, bleeding, or infection due to the procedure.
- Virtual colonoscopy: This is a CT scan of the colon. You will be asked to lie on our table, where our CT scanner will take cross-section images of the colon. This is a noninvasive treatment and does not require sedation. A colonoscopy will be needed to extract the polyps or tumors if abnormalities are detected.
- Double-contrast barium enema: A small tube is placed into your rectum, and barium sulfate, a white, chalky liquid, and air will be pumped into the colon. The barium suspension will line the outer walls of your colon. X-rays of your colon will then be taken to show any abnormalities on the inner wall of the colon. A colonoscopy will be necessary to remove the polyps or tumors if abnormalities are identified.
- Fecal test: These are completed with a fecal sample and are very safe. Fecal tests might not provide confirmatory results but may suggest abnormalities in the GI tract, requiring further tests. A colonoscopy needs to be performed if your results are positive, indicating the presence of cancerous growths in your colon.
Our Washington gastroenterologists perform three various types of fecal tests:
- Fecal occult blood tests detect blood in your feces that is not visible to ordinary eyes through a chemical reaction.
- Fecal immunochemical tests that detect blood through a specific immunochemical reaction of protein in the blood and are often able to detect nonvisible blood.
- Stool DNA tests look for specific abnormal/irregular DNA genes in the cells discarded from cancerous outgrowth or polyps in the stool sample.
Who may be at risk for colon cancer?
- People who have immediate family members such as parents, siblings, or children who have or had colon cancer
- Individuals with familial adenomatous polyposis, a condition where patients develop many polyps in their colon and rectum
- Individuals 45 years of age or over
- People with a previous history of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer
- Patients who had colon cancer previously
- Individuals with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- People with an inactive lifestyle, bad eating habits, and who smoke
Schedule a colorectal cancer screening today
Routine screenings make colon cancer easily detected and prevented in its early stages. If you're 45 or older or have had other conditions that heighten your risk of colon cancer, you should request a colorectal cancer screening. A physician-led group of gastroenterologists who work with a patient-first mindset, Washington Gastroenterology uses leading technology to maintain digestive health. Contact a nearby practice today for more information about receiving a colon cancer screening in Washington.
Colon Cancer Screening FAQs
Why is having colon cancer screenings important?
Colon cancer often starts from irregular growths in the large intestine (colon) or rectum referred to as polyps. With a colonoscopy screening, these precancerous polyps can be excised to help lessen the chance of and possibly even prevent the development of this cancer. Routine colon cancer screenings can also allow doctors to diagnose cancer that has already progressed. When colon or rectal cancer is found early on, it can be less complicated to address.
When should I start colon cancer screenings?
Individuals who carry an average risk for the disease should begin having routine colon cancer screenings upon turning age 45. Those at a greater risk may need earlier screenings. Your gastrointestinal specialist can help you identify exactly when you should begin your colon cancer screenings.
How frequently should I get a colon cancer screening?
The frequency with which people should undergo colorectal cancer screenings may be based on the screening being conducted. Generally, people aged 45 and over should undergo a colonoscopy once every 10 years when they have an average risk for colon or rectal cancer and have normal colonoscopy results. Patients with a significantly high risk are advised to undergo colonoscopy exams at least once every five years. To learn how frequently you should schedule screening exams for colorectal cancer, please consult your gastrointestinal physician.
How can I prep for a colorectal cancer screening?
The best way to prep for a colon cancer screening will depend on the form of screening received. When undergoing a colonoscopy screening, detailed prep instructions will be given to you by your gastroenterology team ahead of your exam to clear out your bowel. There may be certain directions to follow for several days prior to your screening. It is crucial to abide by your physician's instructions to help make certain they can detect any concerns when conducting your screening.
Washington Gastroenterology runs like a Swiss watch. The staff who works there are friendly and provide good communication on what to expect and are patient answering questions. Their efficiency does not come at the expense of shortcuts though. From getting the paperwork completed, getting to my pre-procedure room and finally to the procedure room, it was all done expediently. I don’t recall any of the procedure which is just the way I wanted it. Should get my pathology results back shortly but have a complete report and pictures of what they did in the procedure. As much as I dislike the pre-colonoscopy prep, it’s much easier than dealing with a colon cancer diagnosis. So I always follow their repeat procedure guidelines.
Dr Moussan and all his medical staff are absolutely wonderful. I am so thankful for wonderful care. Last year Dr had found colon cancer and I was only 37 years old. I had surgery and it’s now gone. I thank God for such a wonderful Dr and staff. Thank you!
The gold standard for colon cancer, a colonoscopy from Dr Wolman keeps me safe so I can continue to enjoy my time with my precious grandkids. Competent, professional, nw gastroenterology does a wonderful job and has the entire procedure optimized for your benefit. We are lucky to have them here in our community! Marsha Thrall
Dr Mohan and his staff made my visit go fast and smoothly. This was my second visit (last was 10 years ago). No one wants a colonoscopy. My sister had colon cancer and survived due to the wonderful work of her doctors. A couple of days for prep and the procedure is nothing compared to what she endured. Thank you Dr. Mohan and special thanks to your great staff!
Dr agrawal and team completed my first colonoscopy. I was nervous and uncomfortable with the thought of this procedure but reassured by staff that the experience would be quick and painless. The staff made my visit comfortable and efficiently put me to sleep during the quick procedure. I’m pleased to have completed my first colonoscopy and have no future trepidation about return visits for future re-checks. I advocate that everybody 45 and older complete a colonoscopy per the updated health guidelines regarding colon cancer screening.