The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults aged 45 to 75 be screened regularly for colorectal cancer. People at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer should talk to their doctors about when to begin screening, which test is right for them, and how often to get tested.
Several screening tests can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer. You should consult your gastroenterologist to determine which of the following tests are right for you.
Polyps in the colon and small cancers may cause small amounts of bleeding that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Stool tests check your stool for either blood, or small fragments of DNA from a cancer already growing in the colon.
- The most common stool test is the guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT): an annual at-home exam to detect blood in the stool.
- The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is administered in the same way as a gFOBT but uses antibodies to uncover hidden blood in the stool.
- The stool DNA test is done to identify cancer DNA in the stool. You collect stool, and send it to a lab to be examined for cancer cells.
This test uses a small flexible scope to view the lower part of your colon. Because the test only looks at the last one-third of the large intestine (colon), it may miss some cancers that are higher in the large intestine.
Your physician will insert a small, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum and check for polyps or cancer inside your rectum and the lower portion of your intestine.
A colonoscopy is a sedated examination of the inner walls of the rectum and colon (the large intestine). The test is performed using a flexible tube (about the width of your little finger) called a colonoscope. A colonoscopy allows a gastroenterologist to examine the entire colon, and establish the presence of polyps, cancer, diverticulitis, colitis, and other colonic conditions.
A colonoscopy can also be employed as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during one of the other screening tests. Regular colonoscopy screening is recommended every ten years, in most patients.
Here at Palm Endoscopy Center, we perform colonoscopies in a safe, friendly, and pain-free environment. Most of our patients report high satisfaction with the comfort of the procedure.