Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, but it’s also one that’s easy to beat – if you catch it early. Colonoscopies are indispensable in this fight against colon cancer. They screen you for this potentially fatal disease so polyps can be detected and removed before they become cancerous.
At GastroDoxs in Cypress, Texas, Dr. Pothuri recommends you get your first colonoscopy at age 50, provided you have no family or personal history of the disease. Don’t put off this crucial screening test.
By time you show symptoms of colon cancer, it’s well-progressed and harder to treat and cure. Regular screening colonoscopies detect and remove precancerous polyps or cancer at an early stage, before symptoms show up.
A polyp is a malformation on the colon lining. Not all are cancerous, but all colon cancer starts with a polyp – and there’s no way to know if they’re precancerous through screening. So it’s safest to remove them all to ensure you’re removing or preventing cancer.
Diagnostic colonoscopies can be invaluable if you show symptoms that might suggest cancer, such as rectal bleeding or bowel habit changes. Polyps or cancer can be detected (and removed) during these diagnostic colonoscopies, too.
Total colonoscopy, which exams the entirety of the colon, is best for general screening. In some cases, the team at GastroDoxs may recommend flexible sigmoidoscopy, as the procedure is quicker and requires less prep. But since it’s done without sedation and checks only a specific area of the rectum and lower colon, it can leave polyps or cancer in the upper colon undetected.
If you have no history of polyps or cancer and your first colonoscopy is clear, you should then have one every eight years or so. If your family history is strong, start having them earlier and more frequently. We can help you determine what’s the right schedule.
If you had a parent with colorectal cancer, your risk rises to 15-24% (from the average 6%) depending on the age at which your parent was diagnosed. If you had colon cancer in the past, you should get a colonoscopy once every three years.
If you have early warning signs of problems with your colon, a colonoscopy is indispensable in helping the doctors at GastroDoxs determine the cause. Bleeding from your rectum or having blood in your stools is never normal. If you start having more diarrhea or constipation than is normal for you and there’s not another obvious cause (such as a major dietary change,) get yourself checked.
You may also be referred for a colonoscopy if you have unexplained anemia, which can indicate undetected bleeding in your gastrointestinal tract caused by polyps or cancer.
A colonoscopy means doing the prep beforehand and taking time off work for the procedure itself -- but the inconvenience is worth knowing you have a healthy colon or getting rid of any polyps. Call GastroDoxs or book an appointment on this website to talk with Dr. Pothuri and determine if you should schedule a colonoscopy soon.