Colorectal cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the United States. In terms of leading causes of death among American adults, colorectal cancer ranks number three overall. Nearly 148,000 individuals will be diagnosed with the illness this year, leading to 53,000 deaths, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Colorectal cancer is preventable. Nearly all cases of colorectal cancer develop from polyps. Various types of screenings exist to detect polyps or cancer in its early stages. The most widely used method for diagnosing colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy. This procedure involves feeding a long tube called a colonoscope embedded with a tiny camera into the patient’s rectum and colon.
Colonoscopy allows the physician to view the lining of the colon and detect pre-cancerous growths called polyps. The physician can remove these polyps with the colonoscope for lab tests to reach a diagnosis.
Alternative tests exist for people uncomfortable with this procedure. One option is a Cologuard test, in which the patient gives the doctor a stool sample for testing. This DNA-based test can help reveal cancer cells and precancerous polyps. Another option is a virtual colonoscopy, in which pictures of the colon are taken from outside the body.
Nearly two-thirds of cancer deaths could have been prevented with proper screening, according to cancer studies. While Cologuard and virtual colonoscopy are useful for detecting cancer in its early stages, the more reliable test is a colonoscopy. Even if polyps are found with the two alternative tests, the patient will still need a colonoscopy to have the polyps removed.
The risk of colorectal cancer begins to increase with age and new guidelines recommends that those without family history of colorectal cancer undergo screening starting at 45. Colorectal cancer can be present without patients having any symptoms and therefore screening for cancer is recommended. Additionally, there has been a rise in cases among adults between the ages of 20 and 40.
Some of the warning signs of colorectal cancer include a change in bowel habits or stool consistency. Symptoms may include diarrhea, constipation, bloody stools and rectal bleeding. A patient may also begin feeling abdominal discomfort such as cramps, gas or pain on a daily basis. Weakness, fatigue and weight loss are additional symptoms you should not ignore.
Left untreated, polyps can grow and turn into cancer. If the polyps are detected early, removing them involves minimally invasive techniques. But if they progress to cancer partial removal of the colon or rectum may be necessary.
Colon and rectal surgeons are experts in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of diseases of the colon, rectum and anus. They are well-versed in the treatment of both benign and malignant diseases of the colon, rectum and anus and are able to perform routine screening examinations and surgically treat conditions if indicated to do so.
Overall, it’s crucial to detect colorectal cancer as soon as possible to increase the odds of survival. If you think you have symptoms of this condition, contact Arizona Colorectal Experts in Chandler, AZ to schedule a consultation with Dr. Patel or Dr. Hakiman to discuss your options.