Colon Cancer Screening in Hattiesburg, MS

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Colorectal cancer is widely considered to be one of the more preventable cancers. The colon and rectum are contained in the large intestine, which functions to absorb water and nutrients from digested food and holds waste before it is discharged from the body.

A colon cancer screening is a routine process of searching for polyps and other potentially cancerous growths on the inner wall of the colon and rectum when there are no apparent signs of a gastrointestinal disorder. Polyps are benign (noncancerous) growths that can form in the colon. However, they may develop into cancer over time. Early detection and removal of colorectal polyps and any cancerous tumors can reduce the risk of problems as well as death from cancer of the colon.

The distinguished GI physicians at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC routinely perform colon cancer screenings for patients. To arrange for a colon cancer screening in Hattiesburg, MS, please contact one of our local offices.

What are the benefits of colorectal cancer screenings?

Screening regularly for colorectal cancer is important to your general and gastrointestinal health. Several benefits of screenings for colon cancer include:

  • Can be life-saving
  • Potentially detect colon cancer earlier
  • Possibly lessen the risk of colon cancer
  • Detect and remove precancerous growths (polyps) in the rectum and colon
  • Identify other types of gastrointestinal issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease

Colon cancer may not show signs or symptoms until it progresses. Undergoing screenings on a routine basis can help your doctor identify any issues or concerns as soon as possible.

Patients should confer with their provider at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC regarding when to schedule a screening and which tests are suggested. One or more of the procedures listed below could be suggested for a colon cancer screening:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A sigmoidoscope (a finger-sized tube with a built-in camera) will be used to get a look at the inside of the lower colon and rectum. The scope will enter the rectum, and images will be taken of the inside wall as well as some of the colon. This technique may be used so your gastroenterologist can take a biopsy of any polyps or tumors and get rid of some polyps. However, a colonoscopy will need to be done to get a look at all of the colon and to remove all polyps and tumors. This procedure is generally pretty safe, but there is a minimal chance of a bowel tear, bleeding, and infection.
  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscope is like a sigmoidoscope except that it is longer and thus able to view the inside of the entire colon. The colonoscope is snaked through the rectum, allowing the doctor to see a full view of the colon on a computer system. Special tools may be introduced into the colonoscope to complete the biopsy and extract polyps. Sedation will be needed. There is a minimal chance of bowel tears, bleeding, and infection due to the procedure.
  • Virtual colonoscopy: Virtual colonoscopy is a CT scan of the colon. Patients are directed to lie on a table, where the CT scanner will take cross-section images of their colon. It is a noninvasive technique and does not call for sedation. If any abnormalities are found, a colonoscopy will have to be completed to extract the polyps or tumors.
  • Double-contrast barium enema: A thin tube is placed into the rectum and barium sulfate, which is a white chalky liquid, and air are pumped into the colon. The barium suspension will line the outer walls of the colon. X-ray images of the colon are then taken to identify abnormalities on the inner wall. If any abnormalities are identified, a colonoscopy needs to be done to extract the polyps or tumors.
  • Fecal test: Fecal tests are performed with a fecal sample and are totally safe. These tests do not necessarily provide confirmation of abnormalities in the GI tract, but they might offer some evidence of a disorder that requires further testing. A colonoscopy will need to be performed if your results are positive, indicating the presence of cancerous growths in the colon. Our Hattiesburg, MS gastroenterologists perform three different types of fecal tests:
    • Stool DNA tests identify specific abnormal DNA genes from the cells discarded from cancerous outgrowths or polyps in the stool sample.
    • With the help of a chemical reaction, fecal occult blood tests can detect blood in your feces that isn't visible to normal eyes.
    • Fecal immunochemical tests are able to detect blood that would otherwise be imperceptible through a certain immunochemical reaction of protein in the blood.
  • People age 45 and older
  • Patients who have inherited familial adenomatous polyposis, a condition where individuals may develop polyps in the colon and rectum
  • Patients with an inactive lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, and/or who smoke
  • People who have close family members such as parents, siblings, or children who have or had colon cancer
  • Individuals with a previous history of breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer
  • Patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease
  • Individuals who have had colon cancer previously

With routine screenings, colorectal cancer is easy to detect and preventable in its early stages. If you're 45 or older or if you have had other conditions that heighten your chances of colon cancer, we urge you to be proactive with your health by scheduling a colon cancer screening. The board-certified GI specialists at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC work with a patient-first attitude, employing the most innovative technology available to strengthen your digestive health. To learn more about scheduling a colon cancer screening in Hattiesburg, MS, contact one of our facilities.

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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.

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