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The Importance of Early Detection for Colon Cancer

A preventive screening is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk for developing a serious disease. This is especially true when it comes to colon cancer.

Doctors usually discuss cancers of the colon and rectum together, using the term colorectal cancer to describe uncontrolled cell growth in the large intestine.

While anyone can develop colon cancer, some people are at special risk and can therefore benefit from early detection. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing colon cancer and dying from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society, and this is especially true for men. Those who have a sedentary lifestyle and engage in very little physical activity also have a higher risk for this type of cancer and can benefit from regular screening.

Diet can affect the risk for developing colon cancer. Those who eat diets high in red meat, such as beef, pork or lamb, and hot dogs or other processed meats, have a greater risk for colon cancer. People who consume low-fiber diets with few fruits and vegetables can benefit from preventive screenings for colon cancer. Smokers, those who use alcohol, older individuals, and those with a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or a family history of colon cancer can also benefit from regular screenings, because each of these factors can increase the risk for colorectal cancer.

Benefits of Preventive Screening

Preventive screening helps doctors detect and treat colon cancer before it spreads to the rest of the body, a process known as metastasis. While colon cancer can spread to any nearby or faraway organ, it is most likely to spread to the liver, lung, or the membrane lining the abdomen, known as the peritoneum.

Preventive screenings help detect cancer early, when it is easier to control. Screenings can also determine if colon cancer has metastasized to other organs.

The American Cancer Society recommends regular screenings for adults with normal risk for colon cancer, which means they do not have any of the known risk factors for the disease, starting at age 50. Repeat screenings depend on the type of screening. Those with a normal risk for colon cancer should have a colonoscopy every 10 years, or a flexible sigmoidoscopy, barium enema, or virtual screening with CT scans every five years.

If you have a normal risk for colon cancer, or you’re at a high risk, talk with your doctor about virtual screening and other tests that can detect colon cancer early.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 770.730.0119 today to make an appointment with Virtual Imaging.

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