Possibly the biggest gift we can give ourselves is time. Time to smell the flowers, go for a long walk or just enjoy a laugh with friends. In our hectic lives, it’s easy to put ourselves last and not take the time we need to check in on our personal health. Even easier is to avoid taking a first step to what we know will help us in the long run. “I can do it tomorrow”, “I feel fine”, “I don’t have the time right now” are common roadblocks we might use to convince ourselves that routine health screenings just don’t fit into our busy lives right now.
Why and When to get Screened for Colorectal Cancer
At Spring Ridge Surgical Specialists, we consult with many patients who come to us hesitant to take the first step in screening for colorectal cancer, one of the most prevalent cancer types in the United States today. It’s important to point out that colorectal cancer often does not produce any symptoms until the disease is in the advanced stage. Whether referred by a family doctor, a family history of colorectal cancer, or having reached the suggested age of 50 to begin screenings, it’s natural to have many questions – some perhaps difficult or embarrassing to ask – but so important as you take an active role in your colorectal care. In this article, we’ll share basic information on the types of screenings and what you might expect with each.
What You Can Expect
The goal of any screening is to detect polyps within the gastrointestinal tract. Your doctor will discuss the screening method best for your individual health needs. If detected, the majority of polyps is usually non-cancerous and not cause for concern if promptly removed. Lab testing of the removed polyps will confirm if cancer is present or not.
- Colonoscopy is the best test available today that doctors can utilize to detect the presence of polyps and remove them during this minimally invasive procedure. A day before your procedure, bowel prep will need to be performed at home. During the painless procedure, you will be sedated, asleep and completely comfortable. A long, flexible tube will be inserted and guided throughout the entire colon, producing images the doctor will see on a video monitor to determine if polyps are present.
- Digital Rectum Exam (DRE) is a painless exam your doctor performs in the office to detect polyps in the rectum or anus.
- Fecal Occult Blood Test tests for blood in the stool that can’t be seen, but if present may indicate polyps or cancer.
Regardless of the screening method your doctor recommends for you, it’s important to ask as many questions as necessary so you fully understand the procedure. Dr. Robert Howard, Dr. Joseph Levan, and Dr. Thomas Beetel each take pride in educating patients on the benefits of colorectal cancer screenings, and what to expect during a screening procedure.
Most importantly, as an informed patient you have the power to take time for yourself and maintain your best health!
– Spring Ridge Surgical Specialists