Colon Cancer Screening in Hattiesburg, MS

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Colorectal cancer ranks as the third most commonly diagnosed cancer but is also one of the most preventable. The large intestine, composed of the colon and rectum, functions to absorb water and nutrients from digested food and stores solid waste until it is expelled.

A colon cancer screening involves searching for polyps and cancerous growths on the inner wall of the colon and rectum, typically in individuals without any gastrointestinal symptoms. Polyps are usually benign growths that can potentially become cancerous over time. Early detection and removal of these polyps and any malignant tumors are crucial in preventing serious health complications and mortality from colon cancer.

At Hattiesburg GI Associates, our board-certified gastroenterologists regularly conduct colon cancer screenings and recommend that all patients begin these screenings at age 45. To schedule a screening, please contact one of our offices in Hattiesburg, MS.

What are the benefits of colorectal cancer screenings?

Routine screenings for colon and rectal cancer are crucial for both overall and gastrointestinal health. Although various screening methods exist, such as stool testing, a colonoscopy remains the only strategy that can prevent colorectal cancer. The numerous benefits of colorectal cancer screenings include:

  • Providing a potentially life-saving examination
  • Detecting colon or rectal cancer early
  • Identifying and removing polyps in the colon and rectum
  • Helping prevent the development of colon cancer
  • Diagnosing other gastrointestinal conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease

Colon cancer often presents no signs or symptoms until it has progressed significantly. Regular screenings allow your doctor to detect and address any issues at the earliest possible stage.

People should consult with their gastroenterologist about the optimal timing for screenings and the specific tests that are appropriate. Several tests can be used for colon cancer screening, including:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: This test involves using a sigmoidoscope to inspect the inside of the rectum and lower colon. This device is a finger-sized tube with a camera on the end that is inserted through the rectum, allowing doctors to view images of the inner walls of the rectum and part of the colon. It can also be used to take biopsies and remove some polyps. For a full examination of the entire colon and to remove all polyps or tumors, a colonoscopy is necessary. While generally safe, there is a small risk of bowel tears, bleeding, and infection.

  • Colonoscopy: This procedure uses a colonoscope, which is similar to a sigmoidoscope but longer, to examine the entire colon. The device is inserted through the rectum, and the images displayed allow the doctor to see the entire colon. Special surgical tools can be passed through the colonoscope to take biopsies and remove polyps. Sedation is generally required, and there are minor risks of complications such as bowel tears, bleeding, or infection. It is the most comprehensive preventive strategy for colorectal cancer.

  • Virtual colonoscopy: Also known as a CT colonography, this test uses a CT scanner to create cross-sectional images of the colon while the patient lies on a table. It is a non-invasive method that does not require sedation. However, if abnormalities are detected, a traditional colonoscopy may be necessary to remove any identified polyps or tumors.

  • Double-contrast barium enema: In this procedure, a small tube is used to introduce barium sulfate and air into the colon through the rectum. The barium coats the walls of the colon, and X-ray images are then taken to identify any abnormalities. If abnormalities are found, a colonoscopy is performed to remove any polyps or tumors.

  • Fecal tests: These tests involve analyzing stool samples and are completely safe. They include:

    • Fecal occult blood tests (FOBT): These tests detect hidden blood in the stool through a chemical reaction
    • Fecal immunochemical tests (FIT): These tests use a specific immunochemical reaction to detect blood proteins in the stool
    • Stool DNA tests: These tests look for abnormal DNA from cancerous growths or polyps shed into the stool

While fecal tests can suggest abnormalities, they do not provide definitive results. If results are positive, indicating the potential presence of cancer, a follow-up colonoscopy is typically recommended.

  • Individuals who should consider regular colon cancer screenings include:

  • People over 45 years of age
  • Individuals with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), which may cause numerous polyps to form in the colon and rectum, significantly increasing the risk of cancer
  • People who have previously had colon cancer
  • Women with a history of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer
  • People with close family members (parents, siblings, or children) who have or had colon cancer
  • Individuals with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • People leading a sedentary lifestyle, with unhealthy eating habits, or who smoke

With regular screenings, colon cancer can be detected and prevented in its early stages. If you are over 45 or have other risk factors for colon cancer, you can schedule your screenings at Hattiesburg GI Associates. This physician-led network of gastroenterologists is committed to a patient-first approach, using the most advanced technology to enhance digestive health. To learn more about the benefits of colon cancer screenings and how they can protect your health, please contact a location in Hattiesburg, MS today.

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Why are colon cancer screenings important?

Colorectal cancer often begins from growths in the colon or rectum, known as polyps. With a colonoscopy screening, these precancerous growths can often be removed to help lower the chance of and possibly even prevent this cancer from occurring. Regular colon cancer screenings can also allow physicians to detect cancer that has already progressed. When colorectal cancer is caught early, it can be less complicated to treat.

At what age should you begin having colon cancer screenings?

Adults who are at average risk for developing this disease should begin having periodic screenings for colon cancer upon turning age 45. Individuals who carry a greater risk may need earlier screenings. Your gastroenterologist can help you identify exactly when you should begin colorectal cancer screenings.

How often should I get screened for colon cancer?

The intervals at which individuals should undergo colorectal cancer screenings may be based on the screening being performed. Typically, people aged 45 years and older should have a colonoscopy every ten years when they are at average risk for colorectal cancer and have colonoscopy results that are within normal limits. Those with a higher risk should undergo colonoscopy screenings at least once every five years. For more information on how often you should schedule screening exams for colorectal cancer, please speak with your gastrointestinal physician.

How can I prepare for a colon cancer screening?

The recommended preparatory instructions for a colon cancer screening will be based on the type of screening scheduled. Prior to a colonoscopy, your gastroenterology team will give specific instructions on how to prepare and clean out your colon. Your GI specialist may also give you additional instructions to follow in the days leading up to your exam. It is imperative to abide by your gastroenterologist's instructions to help make certain they can detect any issues during your screening.

The facility was beautifully manicured outside. Inside was spacious and clean. The restrooms were sanitary and clean. Front desk receptionists were kind, knowledgeable, and aware of patients information. My nurse had great beside manners, so sweet, caring and kind. She explained the process very throughly. My anesthesiologist was very professional and explained the steps to the procedures. Dr. Fox was also professional and kind. I would definitely recommend this facility to family and friends. In fact, I plan on making my husband an appointment soon. Thanks to the faculty and staff for making my first Colonoscopy appointment a memorable one. See you guys in 10 years. R. Echols

R.E. Google

Dr Farmer and and staff were amazing.

C.K. Google

My daughter was seen by Dr Patrick Sanchez. If you are looking for a very caring, concerned, personable doctor, Dr Sanchez is for you!! Dr Sanchez spent ALOT of time with us ( some doctors are in and out of the room in 5 minutes!), explaining the procedure that my daughter was having, and actually answered all of our questions and concerns. He also addressed her gastroparesis, and helped her with that. When my daughter had her recheck the week after the procedure, she met with Erin Roberts nurse practioner. This lady is super awesome too! Erin Roberts is very very intelligent and went into great detail about the test results. She has a terrific personality, and genuinely loves her patients and truly cares about them! I highly recommend both of these providers if you are looking for a gastro doctor.

B.C. Google

Very friendly service

D.P. Google

Nice professional and friendly visit.

M.N. Google

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