When Should You Get Screened for Colorectal Cancer?


How exactly do we keep our colon in ideal health? You're certainly not alone if you're questioning where to begin when it comes to learning about your colon health. Physical activity, good dietary habits, and regular health assessments are just a few methods to maintain your health as you age. Colon cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed but avoidable cancers because of the tests that are in use for identifying this disease. Taking charge of your colorectal health could be as easy as scheduling a visit to one of our Gastroenterology Associates of Florida locations in Palm Beach County, FL. Our gastrointestinal (GI) specialists can help guide you down the path toward maintaining your future health.

Why are colon cancer exams essential?

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer impacts the health of nearly 4% of men and women in the U.S., which represents approximately 1 in 25 individuals. The good news is that colorectal cancer can be prevented when it is identified in the early stages.

In most cases, colorectal cancers arise as a growth (cluster of cells) on the internal lining of the large intestine (colon) or rectum. Such growths are known as colorectal polyps. It is uncommon to experience symptoms with polyps, meaning that an exam is vital for identifying them. When you have regular examinations, you’re helping to safeguard your GI and overall health by getting any polyps excised before they become malignant. It is also essential, however, to have a colon cancer screening if you’ve experienced one or more of the following:

What makes colon cancer so prevalent?

Though it isn't clear why colorectal cancer has become more common over the years, a number of factors may elevate the risk of colon and rectal cancer. Staying well-informed and becoming familiar with the risk factors associated with this disease can allow you to remain vigilant and make good decisions for your future health. Some of the risk factors for colon and rectal cancer involve:

  • A diet insufficient in vegetables and fruits
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Use of tobacco products
  • A prior history of colon or rectal cancer
  • A low-fat and high-fat diet
  • A diet that incorporates a high quantity of processed meat
  • Being diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)
  • A family history of colorectal cancer

We encourage you to schedule an appointment with a Gastroenterology Associates of Florida gastrointestinal specialist. Our providers can help you learn more about colon and rectal cancer and how you can take the path toward future health and wellness.

How often should a person have a colorectal cancer test?

It's advised that you have an initial colon screening upon turning 45 years of age when you have a standard risk for colon or rectal cancer and then every ten years following. The risk of polyps and colorectal cancer increases with age, meaning that the more times you undergo a colon cancer test, the quicker a concern can be detected. Upon turning 75 years of age, you’ll require a screening dependent upon your overall health status and your GI doctor’s advisement.

However, having a familial or personal history of colon polyps or colon cancer puts you in the category of significantly higher risk. If you fall into this significant high risk group, you’ll likely need to have a colonoscopy exam at least once every five years. It's much better to determine the condition of your colorectal health and wellness rather than to question whether you should arrange for a GI appointment. A standard test for colon cancer, or a colonoscopy, will generally take less than 60 minutes to perform. This screening is an optimal way to learn the current health of your colon and what modifications you might need to make to keep your colon healthy in the future.

Schedule a colon cancer screening in Florida today

Having colon cancer screenings on a regular basis can help safeguard your future. The American Cancer Society states that about 144,000 new colorectal cancer cases get diagnosed on an annual basis. Help reduce that number today by scheduling a colon cancer test at Gastroenterology Associates of Florida in Wellington, Jupiter, or Atlantis, FL. Should you have concerns or questions about the test, we invite you to discuss them with your gastrointestinal specialist during your consultation.