When Should I Be Screened for Colon and Rectal Cancer?


What can we do to keep our colon in ideal health? You're certainly not alone if you’ve ever wondered where to begin when it comes to learning about your colon health. Adequate amounts of physical activity, good nutrition, and routine health evaluations are just a few approaches to optimize your health as you age. Colon cancer is one of the most prevalent yet preventable cancers because of the screenings that are available for this disease. Learning about your colorectal health can be as easy as requesting an appointment at GI Alliance of Arkansas. Our Northwest Arkansas gastrointestinal (GI) specialists can help guide you toward maintaining your future health.

Why are colon cancer exams so essential?

Colorectal cancer impacts the lives of approximately 4% of adults in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. That is around 1 in 25 people. However, colorectal cancer is preventable if found in the beginning stages.

In most cases, colon cancers arise as a growth (cluster of cellular material) on the internal wall of the colon (large intestine) or rectum. Such growths are known as colorectal polyps. It is uncommon to have symptoms when you have polyps, making a screening essential for identifying them. With colon cancer screenings, you’re safeguarding your GI health by removing those growths before they develop into cancer. It is also vital, however, to arrange for a screening should you notice any of the following symptoms:

Why is colon cancer so common?

While there isn't a clear explanation of why colorectal cancer has become such a common disease throughout the years, there are a few factors that might elevate the risk of colon cancer. Staying educated and understanding the risk factors for the disease can help you remain vigilant and make good choices for the future. A few of the risk factors for colon and rectal cancer involve:

  • Tobacco use
  • A personal history of colon or rectal cancer
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Having inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease)
  • A low-fat and high-fat diet
  • A diet insufficient in vegetables and fruits
  • A diet that includes a lot of processed meat
  • Family history of colorectal cancer

We encourage you to schedule a consultation with a GI Alliance of Arkansas gastrointestinal specialist. Our Northwest Arkansas staff can provide further information about colon cancer and how you can receive guidance toward a future of health.

How frequently should a person undergo a colon cancer test?

It’s recommended to undergo your first colon screening beginning at 45 years of age if you have an average risk for developing colorectal cancer, and then each decade following. The risk of polyps and colorectal cancer grows as you become older, which means that the more colon cancer tests you undergo, the earlier an abnormality can be diagnosed. Once you reach age 75, you’ll need testing depending on your general health status and your GI doctor’s advisement.

It is important to know that having a personal or familial history of colorectal cancer or polyps places you in the significantly higher risk category. Should you fall into this significant high risk category, you’ll likely need to undergo a colonoscopy procedure at least once every five years. It’s better to understand the condition of your colon health and wellness rather than to question whether you should set up an appointment. A standard test for colorectal cancer, better known as a colonoscopy, typically takes less than an hour to complete. This screening is an ideal method to assess the health of your colon and identify any changes you may need to make to keep your colon healthy moving forward.

Schedule a colon cancer screening in Northwest Arkansas

Colon cancer screenings can preserve your future health and wellness. The American Cancer Society reports that around 144,000 new cases of colorectal cancer get diagnosed each year. Fight that number today by requesting a colon cancer test at GI Alliance of Arkansas. Should you have concerns or questions about the screening, consult your gastrointestinal specialist during your appointment at one of our Northwest Arkansas locations.

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