Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death in the United States. However, a colonoscopy can detect colorectal cancer at an early stage when treatment outcomes are typically most successful.
Even better, a colonoscopy offers your specialist a chance to identify and remove abnormal colon tissue before it turns into cancer.
Board-certified gastroenterologist Dr. Prem Chattoo at Hudson River Gastroenterology specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect your digestive health. From heartburn to IBS to Crohn’s, Dr. Chattoo uses advanced diagnostic studies and customized treatment strategies to successfully manage your symptoms.
Check the guidelines Dr. Chattoo wants you to remember regarding colorectal cancer screening, and why he considers colonoscopy one of the best things you can do for your health.
What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that allows a specialist to inspect the inside of your colon and rectum.
During this procedure, a long, flexible tube with a tiny camera at the end (called a colonoscope) is inserted into the rectum and navigated through the entire colon. Sedation provided before the study helps you relax and prevents discomfort.
Dr. Chattoo can remove any suspicious growths or polyps found during the procedure. The tissue specimens obtained during the study are sent for biopsy to rule out, or rule in, their precancerous nature.
Why is colonoscopy important?
There are several excellent reasons for scheduling a screening colonoscopy, including:
Early cancer detection
A colonoscopy can detect colorectal cancer in its earliest stages when it's most treatable. Early-stage colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, which means regular screenings are essential to catch it before it advances.
A unique aspect of a colonoscopy is its ability to help prevent cancer. By identifying and removing polyps during colonoscopy, Dr. Chattoo can prevent them from developing into malignant tumors.
Notably, not every colon polyp is cancerous but nearly every type of colorectal cancer starts as a polyp.
What are the newest guidelines for colorectal cancer screening?
While individual risk factors might necessitate a different screening approach, general guidelines include:
Previously, the recommended age to begin regular screenings was 50 for individuals at average risk. However, due to the rising incidence of colorectal cancer in younger individuals, the American Cancer Society now recommends starting screenings at age 45.
If your initial colonoscopy results are normal and you're at average risk, you typically won't need another one for 10 years. However, if Dr. Chattoo locates and removes polyps during the study, he might recommend a follow-up in 3-5 years or sooner.
Individual risk factors
Per guidelines, Dr. Chattoo may recommend a screening colonoscopy at a younger age if you’re at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Factors that can increase your risk include:
- Personal history of colorectal cancer or precancerous polyps
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
- History of cancer (radiation) treatments to the abdomen or pelvic area
You’re also at increased risk if you have a confirmed or suspected hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome that can develop into cancer at a very early age, even in childhood. These include familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC).
Remember, your best fight against colorectal cancer is early detection. Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Chattoo today. Call the office or request an appointment online.