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The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer for men and women, and the leading cause of cancer deaths. Frequently, colorectal cancer can be prevented through regular screening. Many times, you will not experience any symptoms of colon cancer until later in the disease and so screening is the only way to catch it early.

Colorectal cancer normally develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. A colonoscopy can find and remove these polyps before they advance into cancer. Colorectal cancer is typically very treatable if found early enough.

Although there are several different testing options for colorectal cancer the most effective is a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy looks at the entire colon and rectum. The patient is typically sedated. The colonoscopy does require the entire colon to be cleansed prior to the procedure.

A colonoscopy is the best screening test available. It is the most sensitive test, and all other tests require a follow up colonoscopy for any concerning results. A colonoscopy is also the most thorough testing option available and will catch any polyps much earlier. A colonoscopy typically takes about thirty to sixty minutes, and it will generally need to be repeated every ten years.

It is recommended that a person with average risk start screening for colorectal cancer at age forty-five. You may be at risk and have different screening guidelines if you have a personal history of colorectal cancer, have a parent, child, or sibling who has had colorectal cancer, have a genetical predisposition for colorectal cancer or have a history of inflammatory bowel disease. If you have any of these conditions, reach out to your primary care provider to determine the best screening schedule.

Colonoscopies can be completed locally at Gunnison Valley Health, by one of our two general surgeons. Dr. Lee and Dr. Salim both have extensive experience and use the best possible equipment to perform the colonoscopy.