This year, about 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer, the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths nationwide. At Sacred Heart Medical Group PC in Greenbelt, Maryland, Gabriel Oboite, MD, and his team help patients stay healthy with routine colon cancer screenings to detect the disease in its earliest stages. Regular screening is the key to preventing serious, life-threatening complications associated with undiagnosed colorectal cancer. If you’re due for a colorectal cancer screening, you can schedule today by calling the office or booking an appointment online.
There are two types of colon cancer screening. One is performed while you are sedated, called a colonoscopy.
This type uses a long, flexible scope to see inside your rectum and colon. The scope is inserted and then slowly withdrawn while a camera takes real-time images showing the lining of your colon and rectum lining. Your provider can also use the scope to remove fleshy growths called polyps and take tissue samples for evaluation.
Colonoscopy is preferred for anyone with risk factors for colorectal cancer, like a family history of the disease. There’s another at-home test kit for patients at average risk that uses a small sample of your stool. You collect the sample using the kit, then send it off to a lab using a special mailer.
The sample is evaluated for blood in your stool and for cellular changes associated with cancer. Depending on your results, you may need to have additional screening.
Colon cancer does cause symptoms, but sometimes those symptoms aren’t noticeable until the cancer is in an advanced stage. Some of the most common symptoms include:
Because symptoms may not occur until a later stage of the disease, you should not rely on the presence or absence of symptoms to decide whether or not to be screened. Regular screening looks for subtle changes in the earlier stages of cancer, so you can begin treatment when it’s most effective.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 45, for people at average risk for cancer. These tests should repeat every 10 years.
The ACS recommends testing more frequently based on your unique risk factors for people at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. Dr. Oboite can discuss your screening options with you, including the best screening type for you and how often you should be tested.
Don’t shy away from colon cancer screening: It could just save your life. To learn more about the screening options we offer and how often you should be screened, call the office or book an appointment online today.