March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and the doctors at the Colonoscopy Center of Excellence have taken great strides to spread awareness about this disease – the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. We often hear how important it is to be screened for colorectal cancer, but many people are still left with several questions. It is important for you to learn the facts about colorectal cancer and take action against the disease by getting a colorectal cancer screening in our Los Angeles outpatient facility.
What Is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is a disease in which cells in the colon or rectum become abnormal and divide without control, forming a tumor. Colorectal cancer cells can also spread to the surrounding tissues, and may break away and form new tumors throughout the body. The disease affects both men and women, and almost always starts in a small growth called a polyp. Polyps are often visible during the popular screening test known as a colonoscopy. Due to this easy screening, it is also one of the most reversible cancers in the United States if caught in an early stage.
What Is Colorectal Cancer Screening & Why Is It Important?
Doctors use screening tests to check for health problems before they cause symptoms. Colorectal cancer screening can detect cancer, polyps, non-polypoid lesions (depressed areas of abnormal cell growth), and other conditions. This makes colonoscopy more than just a screening test – it can also aid in colon cancer prevention!
Colorectal cancer may be a leading cause of cancer death, but it is also very easily detected in a colorectal cancer screening early on. Finding and removing abnormalities (polyps) is one of the most effective ways to prevent colorectal cancer development.
Do I Need a Colorectal Cancer Screening?
The experts at the Colonoscopy Center of Excellence recommend that every adult receive a first screening by the age of 50 and even sooner if the patient has higher risk factors. Factors that contribute to colorectal cancer include:
- Age: Most people who develop colorectal cancer are over age 50, because the cancer is more likely to occur as we age.
- Polyps: Though polyps are common in people over 50, those that have had polyps before should be particularly cautious in getting screened frequently and getting any polyps removed.
- Personal history: A person who has already had colorectal cancer is at an increased risk of developing the cancer a second time. Also, studies show that people that have had certain other types of cancer have a higher chance of developing colorectal cancer.
- Family history: If a close relative has had colorectal cancer, you should be screened earlier than the average person because you may have a higher risk. If several family members have had colorectal cancer, your risk increases even more. You should be screened 10 years before the age at which your first degree relative was diagnosed.
- Diet: Some evidence suggests that the development of colorectal cancer may be associated with high dietary consumption of red and processed meats, high consumption of dietary fats, and low consumption of fiber such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Exercise: Some evidence suggests that a sedentary lifestyle and obesity may be associated with an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. People who exercise regularly may have a decreased risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Smoking: Evidence from epidemiologic studies suggests that cigarette smoking increases the risk of colorectal cancer.
If you are over 50, or have an increased risk due to one or more of these factors, call today to schedule colorectal cancer screening.
What Methods Are Used to Screen People for Colorectal Cancer?
The Los Angeles gastroenterologist at La Peer can perform a variety of colorectal cancer screening types including:
- Stool test to check for blood in the bowel movements
- Air contrast barum enema
- Sigmoidoscopy to examine the lower part of the colon
- Colonoscopy (the most definitive test to examine the entire colon)
- Third Eye Retroscope (provides a secondary “backward” angle during a colonoscopy)
What Can I Expect During a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure in which a flexible endoscope is inserted through the anus to view the entire large intestine, or colon, to look any potential signs of colon cancer. It is important that patients follow the necessary bowel preparation so that your doctor can clearly view the walls of your colon. If a polyp is found, they can be removed during the same procedure. During the 30-45 minute procedure, the patient is usually comfortable and sedated but can leave the surgical center after the procedure and go back to his or her daily life the same day (with the exception of driving a car for 24 hours).
The doctors at La Peer celebrated Colon Cancer Month on March 9 with Scopefest in Los Angeles. The group received colonoscopies at La Peer Health Systems in an effort to prove that colonoscopies are not only crucial to your health, even for doctors, but also nothing to fear or worry about. While many people are reluctant to get screened due to the required preparation or the sedation and technique used, the doctors showed that the procedure is safe and the recovery is quick.
Schedule a Colorectal Cancer Screening in Los Angeles
The success in detecting abnormalities during a colonoscopy depends heavily on the expertise and experience of your doctor, so a specialist called a gastroenterologist is recommended. Even if your general doctor spots polyps or a tumor, he or she will probably not be able to treat your condition and perform the necessary procedure. Our experienced team of Los Angeles gastroenterologists and surgeons at La Peer can diagnose, treat and follow up on your condition.
If you are due for a colorectal cancer screening in Los Angeles, please contact the Colonoscopy Center of Excellence today and make a colonoscopy appointment with cutting edge treatment and exemplary patient care.