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Screening for Colorectal Cancer
Screening for colorectal cancer is an important aspect of health care for those over the age of 50, as well as individuals who are at a higher risk of developing the disease. There are currently several effective methods of screening for colorectal cancer, all of which are able to detect signs of precancerous lesions, called polyps, even when the patient may not be exhibiting any noticeable symptoms. The experts at Moffitt Cancer Center highly encourage individuals to make these screenings a part of their regular health care routine, as cancer that is detected in its early stages generally has more options for treatment, improving the likelihood that the patient will achieve a favorable outcome and enjoy a higher quality of life.
Moffitt’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program offers several colon cancer screening methods, which include:
- Standard colonoscopy – During this procedure, the patient is sedated and a physician inserts a flexible tube with a small camera at the end, called a colonoscope, into the patient’s rectum. The real-time image is shown on an external monitor, allowing the physician to examine the inside of the colon and rectum to check for signs of colorectal cancer.
- Virtual colonoscopy – A physician inserts a catheter into the patient’s rectum to fill their colon with air. After, a series of computerized tomography (CT) scans are taken. These images are then reviewed by the physician to detect polyps and other abnormalities.
- Sigmoidoscopy – A sigmoidoscope, a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera attached to the end, is inserted into the patient’s rectum, allowing the physician to examine the rectum and lower portion of the colon. If polyps are present, the physician may remove them to determine if they are cancerous.
- Fecal occult blood test – A patient’s stool sample is tested in a lab to check for the presence of occult, or hidden, blood. This blood may be a sign of a bleeding tumor and usually requires more extensive testing.
- Double-contrast barium enema – Barium sulfate, a liquid that provides contrast for imaging, is injected into the patient’s colon through a tube inserted through the rectum. The tube then fills the colon with air and X-ray images are taken. A physician will then review the images for signs of cancer. If polyps are discovered, follow-up testing may be recommended.
If you’d like to speak with a physician to determine which method of screening for colorectal cancer is right for you, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form. You do not need a referral to schedule a consultation.