The message is the same each year, but the significance has not faltered. Regular screenings for colon cancer can catch the deadly disease before it even begins. Doctors at Baylor College of Medicine say by scheduling an appointment, you could be saving your life!
"Getting screened regularly is one of the most effective ways to prevent colon cancer," said Dr. Waqar Qureshi, professor of medicine and chief of endoscopy at BCM. "Colon cancer is known as the silent killer because symptoms are not present until it is too late."
Symptoms of colon cancer
Symptoms include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, weight loss or anemia. But if symptoms are apparent, then more than likely the cancer has already spread. Screening can catch precancerous growths at a time when life-saving treatments are still effective.
Qureshi suggests talking to a gastroenterologist to discuss the different screening options. However, he said a colonoscopy is the most accurate way to find precancerous growths, which almost always begin as polyps.
Looking for polyps
"Using a colonoscope, a thin, flexible device with a small video camera, doctors look for polyps and abnormalities on the colon wall," Qureshi said. "If a polyp is found, then it can be removed at that time, during the colonoscopy."
A colonoscopy takes up to 20 minutes, and patients are sedated so most don’t even remember the procedure, Qureshi said.
"Usually screenings start at age 50 and continue every 10 years after that," said Qureshi. "However, if colon cancer runs in your family, screenings should be more frequent and begin sooner. Talk to your doctor to find out what is best for your personal health."
To make an appointment with a Baylor College of Medicine doctor contact 713-798-0960 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.