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Cancer | Oncology

Colorectal Cancer Screening - Colonoscopy

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer in the United States, following skin, breast (women)/prostate (men) and lung cancers. Though colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers, it is one of the more curable and preventable forms of the disease if detected early through colonoscopy screenings.  

In fact, when colorectal cancer is found early and treated, the five-year survival rate is 90%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's why medical experts and the American Cancer Society recommend you begin screening at age 50. Due to a higher rate of incidence at younger age, it is recommend African Americans begin screening at age 45.

Colorectal cancer starts in either the colon or the rectum. There are two types of colorectal cancer:

  • Colon (bowel) cancer - cancerous cells that form polyps (small, tumor-like growths) in the longest part of the large intestine (the colon or bowel)
  • Rectal cancer - cancerous cells that form polyps (small, tumor-like growths) in the last few inches of the large intestine before reaching the anus

Colonoscopies, screening tests for colorectal cancer, allow physicians to detect and remove polyps before they become cancer. The ability to detect and remove polyps early is one reason survival rates are high. And, finding colorectal cancer earlier may make it easier to treat.

At Summa Health System, three types of physicians perform colonoscopies and other colorectal screenings: gastroenterologists (GIs), colorectal surgeons and general surgeons who specialize in procedures involving abdominal organs. 

Summa's board-certified colorectal surgeons provide expert and compassionate care. Their surgical training and specialization, coupled with Summa GI's in-depth knowledge of the digestive system, results in the best possible understanding and care for this part of the body.  And, it's all delivered in a compassionate, patient-oriented way.

The two biggest benefits of undergoing a colorectal screening are simple: prevention and early detection.

Following an initial procedure, individuals should defer to their physician's recommendation for future screening.

Suggested screening guidelines are:

  • Colonoscopy - every 10 years starting at recommended age (unless otherwise noted by physician)
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy - every five years (if test is positive, a colonoscopy should be done)
  • Barium enema - every five years (if test is positive, a colonoscopy should be done)

Risk factors include:

  • Lifestyle. Factors such as diet, alcohol and tobacco consumption and amount of physical activity (or lack thereof) affect the chances of developing colorectal cancer. Individuals who smoke cigarettes, regularly consume alcohol and have poor diets are at increased risk.
  • Personal/family history of cancer. Individuals with close relatives who have/had colorectal cancer are sometimes more likely to develop the disease themselves. Similarly, if someone has a personal history of cancer, the chance of development increases, especially among women who have had cancer of the ovary, uterus or breast.
  • Existing or previous bowel disorders. Conditions like colitis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, etc. could lead to colorectal cancer depending on severity.
  • Age. Most cases are diagnosed among individuals older than age 50. According to National Cancer Institute statistics, the average age at diagnosis is 72.

Schedule your colonoscopy screening by phone toll-free (888) 720-5318 or request an appointment online anytime.

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