Colon cancer screening is an important preventive measure to detect colon cancer or precancerous conditions in the early stages when they are more treatable. There are a number of reputed cancer hospitals in India where they are equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment. As a patient or someone related to the patient, when you visit the best Cancer treatment in India, you should know the following things about colon cancer screening.
Importance of Screening:
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, but it can often be prevented or detected early through screening. Regular screening can help identify abnormal growths (polyps) in the colon or rectum before they turn into cancer or catch cancer at an early stage when it is more treatable.
Screening Guidelines: The guidelines for colon cancer screening may vary slightly depending on the country and medical organizations. However, common recommendations include starting screening at age 50 for average-risk individuals. High-risk individuals, such as those with a family history of colon cancer or certain genetic conditions, may need to start screening earlier.
Screening Methods: Several screening methods are available for colon cancer, including:
This is considered the gold standard for colon cancer screening. It involves a flexible tube with a camera being inserted into the rectum and colon to examine the entire colon. During the procedure, polyps can be detected and removed, and tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken if necessary.
B. Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)
This test checks for hidden blood in the stool, which can be a sign of colon cancer or polyps. It is non-invasive and can be done at home by collecting a stool sample and sending it to a laboratory.
C. Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
This procedure is similar to a colonoscopy but only examines the colon’s lower part. It may be combined with FIT.
D. CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy)
This test uses computed tomography (CT) scanning to produce detailed images of the colon. It does not require sedation but may still require bowel preparation.
E. Stool DNA Test
This is a newer screening option that detects altered DNA in stool samples. It may be used as an alternative for individuals who are unable or unwilling to undergo a colonoscopy.
Frequency of Screening
The frequency of screening depends on the screening method used and the individual’s risk factors. In general, colonoscopy is typically recommended every 10 years for average-risk individuals if no abnormalities are found. Other methods may have different recommended intervals.
Preparation and Risks
Some screening methods, such as colonoscopy, require bowel preparation to cleanse the colon before the procedure. This usually involves a clear liquid diet and taking laxatives. While colonoscopy is generally safe, it carries a small risk of complications such as bleeding or perforation of the colon.
If abnormalities are detected during screening, further diagnostic tests or treatments may be necessary. The specific course of action will depend on the findings and the individual’s medical history.
Alongside screening, a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of colon cancer. This includes maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber, engaging in regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy weight.
It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate screening method and frequency based on individual risk factors and guidelines specific to your country or region. Early detection through screening plays a crucial role in preventing and treating colon cancer effectively.