Wondering if you really need that colonoscopy your doctor recommended? Your Torresdale, Bucks and Bala Cynwyd, PA gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists explain why colon cancer screening is so important and discuss colon cancer screening tests.

Colon cancer symptoms are not always obvious

In the early stages of colon cancer, you may have no symptoms. Common colon cancer symptoms, such as blood in the stool, a change in bowel habits, bloating, abdominal pain or weight loss, may only occur when the cancer spreads. Colon cancer screenings can detect cancer or pre-cancerous polyps long before they cause any symptoms.

Types of screening tests in Torresdale, Bucks and Bala Cynwyd

Colonoscopy is the most well-known type of colon cancer screening test. After you use laxatives to clear your bowels, your gastroenterologist inserts a flexible scope into your anus and passes it through your large intestine to the beginning of your small intestine. The lighted scope contains a tiny camera that transmits images to a digital screen. If your doctor notices any polyps during the screening, he removes them immediately. Although many polyps are benign, some are cancerous or pre-cancerous. Since your risk of colon cancer increases with age, initial colonoscopies are recommended at age 50.

Colonoscopies are the most used type of colon cancer screening tests because polyps and other problems can be detected and treated during the procedure. In some cases, your doctor may recommend other screening tests instead of or in addition to a colonoscopy, including:

  • Virtual Colonoscopy: Virtual colonoscopy offers an alternative to traditional colonoscopy. If your results are abnormal, you may still need a traditional colonoscopy. The test is performed by examining computerized tomography (CT) images taken after air is pumped air into your colon and rectum.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: The flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure is similar to a colonoscopy, but only your rectum and the lower part of your colon are examined. Polyps can also be removed during this test.
  • Barium Enema: This X-ray test involves injecting barium into your rectum to produce a clear image of the colon. If abnormalities or polyps are spotted, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy.
  • Stool Tests: Home test kits provided by your doctor can detect small amounts of blood in your stool. Your sample is sent to a medical laboratory for examination.

A colon cancer screening offers an easy way to safeguard your health. Call your Torresdale, Bucks and Bala Cynwyd, PA gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists to schedule an appointment to discuss the right screening option for you.