Colon Cancer Awareness Month is upon us! Our friends at StopColonCancerNow.com want to encourage American men and women to get a colon screening. Most adults who are at average risk should have a baseline colon screening at the age of 50, but which colon screening is best? There are many different types of screenings:
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy—a lighted probe called a colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and the last one-third of the colon, also known as the sigmoid, to look for polyps and abnormalities
- Virtual colonoscopy—CT images are used to create a detailed picture of your colon
- Fecal occult blood test—a stool sample is analyzed for blood
- Double contrast barium enema—this procedure uses x-rays to view the colon. Barium is placed in the bowel through an enema.
- Colonoscopy—a lighted probe called a colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and entire colon to look for polyps and abnormalities. If polyps are discovered, they can be removed and tested immediately.
Even though there are five types of screening for colon cancer, colonoscopy is the most thorough and comprehensive exam for the colon and is known as the gold standard screening. A gastroenterologist can examine the entire colon with the colonoscope, whereas some of the other screenings only allow for partial viewing of the colon. If there are suspicious results from any of the other types of screenings, a gastroenterologist would schedule a colonoscopy for follow-up. Therefore, why not just schedule a colonoscopy for the most accurate results?
The colonoscopy is also the gold standard for colon screenings because the test is not just a diagnostic tool, but it is also a method of treatment and prevention as well. Polyps can be removed during the screening! A colonoscopy is such an effective test that it does not have to be repeated for 10 years if the results show no signs of polyps or abnormalities.
Colon cancer is highly treatable when discovered in the early stages. If you have been thinking about scheduling a colon screening, schedule a colonoscopy in the month of March. Be a part of the campaign to prevent colon cancer!