Colon cancer screening normally includes one or more of the following tests:
The fecal stool sample involves testing a small sample of the patient's stool to check for blood or other abnormalities. Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy involve the use of a long thin tube with an attached camera that is inserted into the rectum. The difference between these two tests is that the sigmoidoscopy only evaluates the left side of the colon while the colonoscopy evaluates the entire colon. A fecal stool sample or FIT test should be performed every year, while the other tests can be performed every 5-10 years.
Almost everyone has colon polyps at some point in their lives. Although the majority of reported colon cancers begin with a polyp, not all polyps will turn into cancer. Polyps can appear at almost any age and in any segment of the colon. Abnormal cells can develop throughout the colon. The growth of abnormal cells that grow within the lining of the colon wall can lead to cancer. As cells mutate and change, the risk of colorectal cancer increases. During a colonoscopy, any polyps discovered will be removed in an attempt to reduce the possible risk of colon cancer.
Colon cancer is treated in many different ways. If the cancer is found in the earliest stages, a section of the colon may be removed. If the cancer is advanced, chemotherapy and radiation may be used to shrink the cancer prior to the surgery. Once the cancer has been removed, the doctor may choose to continue chemotherapy and radiation for a specified period of time to ensure the cancer is under control. The use of chemotherapy can also help to prevent cancer cells from spreading to other areas of the body. Eating a high fiber diet and scheduling colon cancer screening tests regularly will reduce a person's risk of colorectal cancer.