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Colon cancer is among the most common cancers in the United States. It affects more than 130,000 men and women each year. Colon cancer is highly treatable when it is detected early.
Our colon cancer specialists can pinpoint the precise location and stage of a cancer. We offer the most advanced diagnostic tools and screening tests to help us find and treat tumors.
Most people should begin regular colon cancer screening at age 50. Patients with a first-degree relative diagnosed with colon cancer should start at age 40, or at 10 years younger than the age the relative was diagnosed.
Sometimes, screening methods other than colonoscopies are the better choice for a patient. We are sensitive to individual preferences and offer the full range of colorectal cancer screening tests. A doctor may order one or more of the following:
A colonoscopy is a reliable exam doctors use to find and remove abnormal tissue growths (polyps) in the colon. Colonoscopy has been proven to save lives with early detection and removal of polyps while they are small, easy to treat, and haven’t spread yet.
Though a colonoscopy is a routine exam, it’s normal to feel anxious. Our team will discuss every step of the procedure with you. After the test, we will discuss the results and any follow-up care with you.
Polyps are abnormal growths in the colon that may turn into cancer if left untreated. Polyps can:
When doctors find polyps during colonoscopy, they often remove them immediately. This approach can decrease your risk of colon cancer.
Physicians may use one of two techniques to remove polyps. They can:
Your doctor will send the polyps to a pathology lab for more testing. It can take about a week to receive the results. If your doctor finds polyps during your colonoscopy, you may need further tests for an accurate diagnosis.
A colonoscopy takes about 30 minutes, but it requires some preparation. A day or two before a colonoscopy, your doctor will ask you to complete a bowel prep. This includes a liquid diet and strong laxatives to empty your colon -- stay near a bathroom as you may need to go frequently.
Here’s what to expect the day of the appointment:
You can go home after the test. You will probably still be sleepy from the medicine, but you can return to your usual activities the next day. Your physician will call you with the results of your colonoscopy.
Negative results mean the doctor did not find polyps. Your physician will advise you on when you should have another screening. If the doctor finds polyps, the doctor will biopsy the polyps they remove and examine the tissues for cancer under a microscope.
We offer a service called Open Access Colonoscopy. Patients can schedule routine screening colonoscopies without first going to a gastroenterologist. This saves patients time and money.
You may schedule an Open Access Colonoscopy as long as you are:
If you have multiple health concerns, a nurse will preview your medical records and consult a doctor first. Some insurance plans do not cover preventive health screenings. Check with your insurance carrier to determine your coverage.
Although most people who are diagnosed with colon cancer are older than age 40, some patients are younger. We may recommend genetic counseling for these younger patients and their family members.
If you may be at risk for an inherited cancer, we’ll work with you and our genetics team to recommend next steps. And, we’ll help you and your family members navigate any additional screening or care you may need.
Part of colon cancer diagnosis is identifying the cancer’s “stage” -- the size of the cancer and whether it has spread. Physicians use ultrasound and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to see tumors and stage colon cancer.
Colon cancer is classified as:
Determining the stage of cancer helps doctors choose the most effective treatment options for you.