Colon Cancer

colon-cancer-screeningColon cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers among American women and men. In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates that 103,170 new cases of colon cancer occur each year, and lists colon cancer as the 2nd leading causes of cancer death in the U.S. It is estimated that 1 out of every 20 people in the United States will develop colon cancer if no preventative measures are taken to prevent its development. Despite this stark reality, you can take an active role in increasing your chances of early detection or prevention through regular screenings.

If you are concerned about your colorectal health in general or have a family history of colon cancer, the best thing you can do is schedule a colonoscopy screening with Dr. Ari Nowain, a board-certified gastroenterologist and internist, at the Center for GI Health. As a Beverly-Hills based doctor, he can help ensure your continued colorectal health.

Know the facts and statistics involving colon cancer!

Colon Cancer Facts

A cancer of the large intestine, colon cancer forms from growths like polyps and tumors that occur along the wall of the intestine. Although it is the second most commonly occurring cancer in the United States, colon cancer progresses slowly. If detected early, colon cancer is very treatable. This makes colon cancer prevention extremely important.

Fact: 90% of people whose colorectal cancer is found at an early stage are alive five years after the diagnosis.

Who Gets Colon Cancer?

As is the case with most cancers, it is possible for anyone to develop colon cancer at some point in his or her life. However, certain people are at a greater risk of developing a colorectal cancer than others. Men and women have a similar risk of getting colon. Among ethnic groups, African Americans tend to have an elevated risk of colon cancer.

Common risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnic background and race
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Smoking and Alcohol
  • Personal history of bowel disease
  • Family history or genetic factors

Dr. Nowain recommends that healthy individuals with normal risk factors for colon cancer still have their first colonoscopies at age 50 and have follow-up screenings based on the outcome of their exam. African Americans should have colonoscopies beginning at age 45. Anyone with a family history of colon cancer should begin screening 10 years prior to when the youngest relative was diagnosed as well as more frequent future appointments. Also, patients of any age with symptoms such as blood in the stools, difficulty with bowel movements (diarrhea or constipation), change in bowel habits, anemia, or unexplained weight loss should seek consultation to determine whether or not a colonoscopy is necessary.

If you fall into any of these categories, contact our Beverly Hills office today to schedule an appointment for a colonoscopy.

What Are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

There are various symptoms associated with colon cancer, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea/constipation
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Anemia

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to schedule a colonoscopy with Dr. Nowain. Ideally, you want to detect colon cancer before these symptoms occur, as these symptoms may be indicative of a more advanced form of the disease. Regular colonoscopies are the best way to guard against colon cancer and promote good general colorectal health.

How Is Colon Cancer Detected?

There are a number of methods our Beverly Hills office uses to screen for colon cancer. While a colonoscopy is one of the most effective ways to screen for colorectal cancer, and the best method of obtaining a biopsy of the colon, a stool test to check the bowel movements for blood or a sigmoidoscopy exam to view the lower part of the colon may also be performed.

During a colonoscopy procedure, our surgeons will examine the large intestine using a colonoscope, which is a flexible tube about the width of a finger. The colonoscope has a camera and light, which allow the surgeon to perform a visual inspection and locate any ulcers, colon polyps, tumors or areas of inflammation. A colonoscopy is also the method by which a surgeon removes colon tissue for biopsy. A pathologist will examine the biopsied tissue under a microscope for cancer and pre-cancerous cells.

Regular screenings can prevent more than ½ of colon cancer deaths.

practical-gastro-scopefest

Dr. Nowain performed Third Eye® colonoscopies for Scopefest at La Peer Health Systems.

How Is the Disease Treated?

The good news is that, when detected early, colon cancer is very treatable. Common methods of treatment for colorectal cancers include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. If your colonoscopy does yield an abnormal result, Dr. Nowain will go over your treatment options in a respectful and compassionate manner.

Things You Should Know

Here are some facts and statistics you may not know about colon cancer:

  • Colorectal cancers kill more people each year than either breast or prostate cancer.
  • Without special risk factors, you have a 1 in 20 chance of developing colon cancer at some point.
  • Studies have shown that colonoscopy detects and removes 98% of colorectal tumors.
  • When it comes to colon cancer, prevention and early detection really does save lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is colorectal cancer?

A: Colorectal cancer is a form of cancer that starts in colon tissue or rectum tissue. In most cases, colorectal cancer develops slowly over a period of several years. It begins as a pre-cancerous polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum, which is only detectable in a screening test. This is why gastroenterologists recommend regular screenings to identify and remove these polyps before they can develop into cancerous tissue and ultimately help prevent colorectal cancer.

Q: Are a lot of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer?

A: Unfortunately, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Each year, about 150,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and approximately 50,000 people will die from it in the United States alone.

Q: When should I start getting screened for colon cancer?

A: The recommend colon or colorectal cancer screening age for both men and women is 50. If the colonoscopy turns up negative results (i.e. no cancerous polyps), follow-up screenings should be made every 10 years thereafter. People with a family history of colorectal cancer or worrisome symptoms, however, should consult with their physician to determine if an earlier screening would be beneficial. At the Center for GI Health, Dr. Nowain recommends getting screened 10 years before a family member was diagnosed with colon cancer.

If you think you may be at risk of colon cancer, or if you’re concerned about your colorectal health, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Ari Nowain at the Center of GI Health at 310-657-4444 and schedule an appointment.