The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screenings

medical equipment monitored by a technician

Colorectal cancer is a disease that begins in the colon or the rectum. Depending on where exactly the cancer occurs, it is either called colon or rectal cancer. These two cancers are often grouped together because they are similar in both their causes, symptoms, and treatment.

To beat colorectal cancer, it is paramount that the disease is detected as early as possible, which is why colon cancer screening is so important. Screening tests are able to detect polyps and other abnormalities of the colon or rectum before they evolve into cancer and symptoms begin to occur. The importance of colorectal cancer screenings cannot be understated – read on to learn more about these crucial screening tests.

What Are Colorectal Cancer Screenings?

Colorectal cancer screenings, along with other cancer screening methods, detect and diagnose cancer before a patient begins to feel any symptoms. Early detection is the key to successful treatment before the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. There are currently two main types of colorectal cancer screenings:

  • Stool-based tests, where the doctor takes a stool sample and checks for blood or altered DNA. This is the easiest and least invasive test, but it must be performed more often for up-to-date results.
  • Physical colorectal exams, where the doctor examines your body and performs physical tests to see if any abnormalities are present.

The most common physical screening test is a colonoscopy, where the doctor inserts a light, thin tube into the colon to search for polyps or other abnormalities. If found, polyps can be removed before they develop into cancer.

Both of the colorectal cancer screening groups are commonly performed, and they each have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Your doctor can discuss the options more in-depth with you and help you determine which type of screening test is best for you and when you should receive it.

Why Are Colorectal Cancer Screenings So Important?

Colorectal cancer screenings play an extremely important role in treatment. If found early, before the cancer is able to spread, the 5-year survival rate of colorectal cancer is about 90%. Unfortunately, according to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 3 people who are tested and diagnosed with colorectal cancer had never been screened. Millions of Americans opt out of cancer screenings due to fear or being misinformed about what the test entails, which can lead to a condition that worsens over time.

When Should I Get Screened for Colorectal Cancer?

Those who are over the age of 45 should begin to undergo regular colon cancer screenings, at an interval that depends on your risk level. Age 45 is considered a standard benchmark because the majority of colorectal cancer cases occur in older adults. Additionally, you should consider colorectal cancer screening if the following factors apply to you:

  • You have a history of bowel disorders and infections, such as inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Colorectal cancer runs in your family
  • You have a genetic syndrome that makes you prone to developing polyps
  • You have a history of receiving radiation treatment for other cancers or diseases

Colorectal Cancer Screenings at Southcoast Health

Colorectal cancer can be detected and treated early with the help of cancer screenings, so why wait? If you or a loved one are over the age of 45 or have a prior medical history of cancer and other bowel disorders, speak to your doctor about getting screened for colon cancer. At Southcoast Health, your health is always our number one priority. We offer state-of-the-art colorectal exams and cancer treatment, as well as screenings and services for many other types of cancer. Please contact us today at our locations across MA and RI to learn more about colorectal cancer screenings and stay proactive by scheduling an appointment with one of our doctors today.