Screening Guide for Colorectal Cancer

Human Digestive System Illustration

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.  Fortunately, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer with early diagnosis and treatment.  This article details the most common screening procedures for colorectal cancer available here at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center :

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer affects both men and women equally, and the likelihood of developing this disease increases after the age of 50.  Other risk factors for colorectal cancer include:

  • Preexisting medical conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBI) and diabetes.
  • Hereditary conditions, such as familial adenomatous polypsosis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome.  
  • Race—African Americans have the highest rate of colorectal cancer in the U.S.  Regular screening is recommended to begin at age 45.

The American Cancer Society reports that one in five people affected with colorectal cancer also have affected family members.  Only a qualified doctor can examine your medical and family history and determine your overall risk for developing colon cancer.

Screening Techniques

Regular medical screening is crucial, since most types of colorectal cancers produce no noticeable symptoms in the early stages of development.  Some of the most common colorectal cancer screening techniques are as follows:

  • Digital Rectal Exam:  A physical examination is one of the fastest and simplest ways for doctors to check for colon abnormalities; about half of all colon cancers can be detected this way.
  • Fecal Occult Blood Test: This method involves examining a stool sample for traces of blood, and it is often used in conjunction with a physical exam.
  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy involves using a thin, tube-like camera to probe the rectum for signs of colon cancer.  This common procedure allows doctors to examine gastrointestinal health more closely and perform more specific diagnoses.

Regular colorectal cancer screenings are widely recommended for individuals over the age of 50.  Take advantage of the Consult-A-Nurse services here at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center to answer health-related queries, or to schedule an appointment with a doctor.  Call (818) 676-4000 today.

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