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What is the Goal in Screening for Colorectal Cancer?

medical illustration showing a colon with polyps in it | GI NorthColorectal cancer screening highlights just how true it is that, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Consider for a moment that most health screening tests allow only for early detection. While this is an incredibly important process that provides the best chance at full recovery, colorectal cancer screening goes one step further. The technique used for this screening test allows both the detection and treatment of early stage colorectal lesions, thereby preventing their transition to cancer. Learning more about the screening process can help encourage participation, the only factor limiting the efficacy of this type of cancer screening.

Why do I need colorectal cancer screening?

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in America. The risk of developing this condition, sometimes referred to as bowel cancer, is increased by factors such as the presence of polyps in the colon or rectum, a family history of similar cancers and some genetic conditions. While awareness of risk factors is important for identifying patients who may need to start earlier colorectal cancer screening, this condition commonly occurs in many patients who had no known risk factors. Given the high prevalence rate, recommendations for screening state that everyone should receive a colonoscopy once every 10 years from the age of 50.

What should I expect during colorectal cancer screening?

The most effective screening tool for colorectal cancer is colonoscopy. This procedure allows quick, painless access to the areas most commonly affected by bowel cancer. Colonic polyps have been identified as very early stage lesions that can gradually develop into cancerous lesions. Any polyps discovered during the procedure can also be removed during colonoscopy, making the process one that includes detection, treatment and prevention.

For best results, patients are encouraged to follow instructions for colonoscopy preparation the day before the procedure. Just prior to the start of the procedure, patients receive a mild sedative. For most people, this means that after the medication has worn off, the colonoscopy is remembered a bit like a dream. This can help with any lingering fears, discomfort or embarrassment about the procedure. Recovery after colonoscopy includes letting the sedatives wear off and may include a sensation of bloating for about a day following the procedure.

Who can perform colorectal cancer screening?

While endoscopy is an instrument is widespread use, professionals who specialize in identifying the lesions associated with colorectal cancer are those best prepared to catch and treat these conditions early. The gastroenterology specialists at GI North are experts in the screening, diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the bowel. The GI North healthcare team led by Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano serves Cumming, Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, Suwanee and the entire Atlanta metro area. Patients preferring health care services in Spanish are welcome to request Dr. Quijano. Find out today how GI North can make screening for one of the leading causes of cancer a welcome part of your healthcare routine.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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