Colon cancer is cancer of the colon (large intestine), and rectal cancer is cancer of the rectum (the last several inches of the colon). Together, these two diseases are typically referred to as colorectal cancers.
In most cases, colon cancer is the result of benign polyps that become cancerous over time. Regular screenings are recommended as a preventative measure against colon cancer to identify polyps early.
Factors that may increase the risk for developing colorectal cancers include:
Colonoscopies are the gold standard of the screenings for colorectal cancer. During a colonoscopy, a doctor uses a flexible scope with a camera and light at the end to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find, remove, and take samples of any polyps that may be present. A colonoscopy is also used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during one of the other types of colorectal screening tests. American Cancer Society now recommends screening at 45 years old and then every 10 years, unless instructed more often by a doctor.
Computed tomography (CT) colonography, also called a virtual colonoscopy, uses X-rays and computers to produce images of the entire colon. Doctors view these images on a computer screen to analyze more closely. The goal of screening with CT colonography is to find polyps in their early stages before cancer has a chance to develop. If a polyp is found by a CT Colonography exam the patient would need a colonoscopy to remove it.
A sigmoidoscopy is similar to, but not the same as, a colonoscopy. A sigmoidoscopy only examines up to the sigmoid, the most distal part of the colon, while colonoscopy examines the whole large bowel. For this test, the doctor puts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and lower third of the colon. It is an alternative option, but not as good as colonoscopy, as it may miss up to 40% of colon cancers.
Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) use the chemical guaiac to detect blood in the stool. For this test, you will receive a test kit from your healthcare provider containing a stick or brush to obtain a small amount of stool with. You then return the test kit to the doctor or a lab, where the stool samples are checked for the presence of blood. Guaiac-based fecal occult blood tests are a very easy way of checking and monitoring a healthy digestive tract.
Treatments for these conditions largely depend on what stage the cancers are in. They may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Your gastroenterologist can recommend a surgeon if further action needs to be taken.
Learn more about all things digestive health and wellness by checking out our recent gastroenterology blogs.
To all our valued patients at Digestive Healthcare Center and Central Jersey Ambulatory Surgical Center Your health and safety are important to us. To help protect patients and staff, we have designated Digestive Healthcare Center and Central Jersey Ambulatory Surgical Center as a Patient and Staff “SAFE ZONE.” Our SAFE ZONE is defined by the safety […]
What is Colorectal Cancer? At Digestive Healthcare Center, our team of expert gastroenterologists strives to ensure that patients have all the information they need to promote long term digestive health. In the case of certain gastroenterological conditions such as colorectal cancer, screening is incredibly important. Colorectal cancer starts in the colon (large intestine) or rectum. […]
What is Gastroparesis? At Digestive Healthcare Center, we want to ensure that patients have information about an array of digestive health conditions, to promote positive gastrointestinal health year-round. One such condition is gastroparesis, which is a digestive condition that affects the motility of the muscles in your stomach. Normally, after you swallow, the muscles within […]
If you have any questions about your need for colorectal cancer screening, do not hesitate to speak to your doctor or doctor’s office staff about it. Please consult a doctor for any medical advice you may need. We encourage you to contact us today to learn more about digestive health conditions or to schedule an appointment at one our three gastroenterology centers in NJ.
We are proud to offer telemedicine care to patients throughout NJ, allowing patients to consult with one of our expert gastroenterologists via a two-way video call. Setting up and completing a telemedicine visit is extremely simple, and all you need to do to get started is give one of our offices a call or contact us by filling out a form.