There are different types of colon cancer screenings, including colonoscopies, flexible sigmoidoscopies, and stool sample tests. The most important thing is to be screened at all, since a colon cancer screening can help prevent colon cancer or find it early when it is easier to treat.
Colon cancer screenings are designed to look for polyps, or growths, in the colon that either are cancerous or could become cancerous. Many types of screenings do this with the help of an endoscope or colonoscope, which is a thin tube with a small video camera attached that allows the doctor to see inside your large intestine (colon and rectum). Stool sample tests look for symptoms of polyps, like small amounts of blood in the stool.
The American Cancer Society recommends that you get screened for colon cancer using a colonoscopy every 10 years. However, there are less-invasive procedures, such as the flexible sigmoidoscopy and stool sample tests, that may be recommended on a more frequent schedule.
Talk to your doctor at GI Health about how often you should be screened for colon cancer, and which type of test is right for you. Your doctor will make a personalized recommendation based on your medical status, family history, and other risk factors.
Both the preparation for the procedure and how it is performed vary based on the type of colon cancer screening you undergo. For colonoscopies, the preparation begins several days before the procedure and includes a specific diet. Other tests may require fasting or have little preparation at all. Your doctor at GI Health will walk you through how to prepare for your screening based on the type of test you will be receiving.
Most types of screenings involve a thin tube that is put into the rectum in order to let the doctor see parts of the large intestine and colon with the help of a small video camera. If polyps are found, your doctor may remove them or take a tissue sample to have it tested. Your doctor will make sure that you are properly prepared and will take steps to ensure that your colon cancer screening is as comfortable as possible.