Colorectal or bowel cancer is characterised by the growth of abnormal and malignant lumps in the colon or rectum. They usually start with non-cancerous polyps or mushroom-like growths that form on the walls of the large intestine. If left untreated, they may eventually grow and spread into the bloodstream.
Scientists are still studying the possible causes of this disease and the best ways to prevent it. They believe that genetic factors can make some people more susceptible to the disease than others, and that a healthy lifestyle can reduce the chances of developing colorectal cancer. Early detection is also crucial to successful treatment. Here are some of the screening procedures used to detect this cancer.
Doctors insert a flexible tube with light and small camera along the entire length of colon and rectum. They sedate the patient while looking for any signs of polyps.
If they find polyps, they can remove them during the procedure. If no polyps are found, the patient does not need to undergo the procedure for 10 years.
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is like the colonoscopy procedure but doctors only look at part of the colon or rectum. They use a sigmoidoscope instrument with a fibre-optic light and magnifying lens at the tip. Patients do not need to be sedated during this procedure.
If they detect polyps or suspicious areas, a follow-up colonoscopy will be required. If the doctors find nothing suspicious, they will repeat the sigmoidoscopy procedure after five years.
CT Colonography or Virtual Colonoscopy
Doctors take detailed cross-sectional images of the colorectal area using a computed tomography (CT) scan. Before the scan, they pump air into the colon and rectum.
If the doctors see anything suspicious, they will suggest a follow-up colonoscopy. If nothing suspicious is found, doctors recommend that the CT procedure is repeated after five years.
As scientists research the main causes of colon cancer, doctors should encourage patients who persistently experience bowel discomfort to undergo screening. Treatment is always easiest with early detection.