Simple screenings are the key to preventing diseases like colorectal cancer, a leading cause of cancer deaths among Americans.
A colorectal screening can not only detect the presence of cancer, it may even prevent it from forming. This is because it can detect polyps — growths that your doctor can remove before they turn into cancer.
Gastroenterologist Raul Badillo, MD recommends knowing these three facts as a good defense against colon cancer.
“Knowing this essential information about colon cancer can lead to improved prevention with routine screenings,” says Dr. Badillo.
Starting at age 45, everyone should start to talk to their doctor about their personalized colonoscopy screening schedule.
“There’s a myth out there that only those at high-risk for colon cancer should get colonoscopies, which is not true,” advises Dr. Badillo.
While those at a high risk — such as those with a family history of colorectal cancer, those who are overweight and those who smoke) might have a different colonoscopy schedule, it’s important for every person to develop a colonoscopy plan with their primary care doctor starting at age 45.
“Talk to your doctor to find the plan that is best for you. The American Cancer Society recommends all men and women with an average risk for colorectal cancer get a colonoscopy starting at age 45, while the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises getting your first colonoscopy at age 50,” recommends Dr. Badillo.
Colonoscopies are the “gold standard” for colon cancer screening.
“While there are several options for colon cancer screening, colonoscopies are considered the “gold standard,” says Dr. Badillo.
That said, talk to your doctor to see what options you may have. One potential option is an annual test to check for blood in your stool.
- Every five years: a flexible sigmoidoscopy, in which the doctor places a lighted tube into the rectum to check the lower part of the colon
- Every five years: a virtual colonoscopy, in which X-rays and computers produce images of the entire colon
- Every 10 years: a colonoscopy, in which a doctor inserts a tube into the rectum to view the colon
If you have risk factors for colon cancer, you may need to start testing before age 45.
“If you have risk factors for colon cancer, it’s important to have a discussion with your primary care doctor or specialist well before age 45 about what screening protocol is best for your personal health and comfort level,” Dr. Badillo advises.
Schedule Your Screening Today
Early detection is key to protecting your life and helping you stay healthy for years to come. Schedule your screening today to help protect your whole health.