By DR. DOUGLAS YODER
This is colorectal cancer awareness month. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women.
Colorectal cancer usually starts with a precancerous growth or polyp in the colon. Regular screening tests help find and remove the polyps before they can cause cancer. Screening also helps find cancers early when they can be more easily treated.
The most common symptom of early colorectal cancer is no symptom at all.
Others symptoms may include rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, a change in bowel habits, or cramping pain in the lower abdomen.
Most colorectal cancers are found in persons 50 years or older. Some people are considered higher risk for developing colorectal cancer and may need screened earlier.
People considered at higher risk include those with a family history of colorectal cancer or precancerous colon polyps, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease. Talk to your health care provider to determine when you should start screening for colorectal cancer.
Some colorectal screening tests, such as a colonoscopy, allow the physician to find polyps and remove them at the same time. The procedure is performed in an outpatient setting at the hospital or clinic.
To prepare for a colonoscopy, you simply limit your diet the night before the test and take a laxative prep to clean out the bowel.
You usually receive a mild sedative during the procedure. The physician uses a flexible lighted tube to look at the entire colon, and if the physician sees a polyp, he or she can remove it immediately. Removing the polyp prevents colon cancer from starting.
Although screening tests for colorectal cancer are readily available, not enough people have them. Talk to your health care provider about colorectal screening today.
Yoder is with Blanchard Valley Surgical Specialists, Findlay. Questions for Blanchard Valley Health System experts may be sent to Weekend Doctor, The Courier, P.O. Box 609, Findlay, OH 45839.
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