March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month.

Dr. Sung Lee, Colon and Rectal Surgeon at Premier Surgical Associates at Fort Sanders Regional in Knoxville TN, emphasizes the importance of early screening to prevention of colorectal cancer.

“Early detection is key! If you can catch colorectal cancer early on, it can get resected, and sometimes the patient won’t need chemotherapy or radiation therapy when it is caught early on. Now, it is recommended to get a colorectal cancer screening at age 45.”

What is a colorectal cancer screening?
Colorectal cancer screening is a test that detects unusual growths in the colon or rectum that may be cancerous.

There are five different types of tests that are used to screen for colorectal cancer:

• Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
In this test, the stool (fecal matter) is tested for the presence of blood that can only be seen through a microscope.

There are two types of FOBT. There’s the guaiac FOBT and the immunochemical FOBT.

In a guaiac FOBT, the stool is tested on a special card with a chemical. If there’s blood in the stool, the card changes color.

In an immunochemical FOBT, a special liquid is added to the stool. This mixture is then placed in a machine that contains antibodies. If there’s blood in the stool, a line appears on the window of the machine.

• Sigmoidoscopy
This is a procedure that looks into the inside of your rectum and colon.

A special tool called a sigmoidoscope is inserted through the rectum into your sigmoid colon (lower colon). This device is also used to remove tissue samples or polyps for analysis.

• Colonoscopy
In this procedure, a special device called a colonoscopy is inserted through the rectum into your colon. It is used to inspect the inside of your rectum and colon to check for polyps, abnormal growths, and cancer.

Like the sigmoidoscope, a colonoscope can also remove tissue samples or polyps for analysis.

• Virtual colonoscopy
Virtual colonoscopy is a procedure that uses computed tomography (a series of x-rays).

A computer uses a series of pictures from the colon to create a more detailed image. Through this, doctors can identify polyps and other unusualities in the colon.

• DNA stool test
In this stool test, the DNA in the stool sample is checked for any unusual changes.

When should you get screened for colon and rectal cancer?
The American Cancer Society now recommends people with average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at the age of 45.

Average risk means those without a family history of colorectal cancer and no personal history of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

If you do have a family history of colorectal cancer or personal history of polyps or IBD, you are considered a high risk for getting colorectal cancer. The expert physicians of Premier Surgical Associates of Knoxville and Cleveland, TN recommend scheduling a screening immediately. This will allow your physician to determine the best treatment option for you, and as always, early detection is key to preventing the spread of cancer.

If you have questions about colorectal cancer screening and/or surgery, we are here to help. To request an appointment with a Premier Surgical physician, visit this link.