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Can I Get Checked for Colorectal Cancer Before I Have Symptoms?
Your best chance of surviving colorectal cancer is if your doctor finds and treats it early. The best way to find it early is with a regular screening test. Screening tests look for problems in people who don’t have symptoms. There aren’t routine screening tests for most cancers, but there are several tests that screen for colorectal cancer. Some of these tests also screen for abnormal growths called polyps, which might be found and removed before they have a chance to turn into cancer. Screening can be effective if your doctor finds polyps or cancer before you have symptoms. Then your doctor must follow up with a good treatment plan. These are the main screening tests for colorectal cancer:
Flexible sigmoidoscopy. Your doctor uses this test to look at your rectum and lower colon, called the sigmoid colon. For the test, your doctor inserts a thin, lighted tube with a small video camera on the end into your rectum. The tube is called a sigmoidoscope. Your doctor may take tissue samples called biopsies of anything that looks unusual.
Colonoscopy. Your doctor uses this test to look at your rectum and your entire colon. It uses a long, lighted tube with a small video camera on the end called a colonoscope. The doctor inserts the scope into your rectum and through your colon. The doctor looks for growths called polyps, which can be removed. They are usually noncancerous or benign. Some polyps, though, can turn into cancer.
Barium enema. This test is also called a double contrast barium enema or an air contrast barium enema. A liquid called barium is put into the rectum with an enema. This chalky-white liquid coats the lower part of your intestine, making it easier to see during X-rays. Air is pumped in as well to expand the colon and rectum. Then a technician takes a series of X-rays to show any abnormalities in your colon and rectum.
Virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography). This test is a special type of CT scan of the colon and rectum. Once the CT images are taken, a computer is used to combine them to create a three-dimensional picture, which allows the doctor to look for polyps or cancer.
Colonoscopy is the only test that allows the doctor to view the entire colon and rectum and remove pieces of any abnormal areas for testing. If you have any of the other tests and something suspicious is found, you will likely need a colonoscopy.
Some of these tests may be uncomfortable and a little embarrassing. However, the sooner your doctor finds a polyp, the more likely it can be removed before it becomes cancer. Keep in mind, though, that screening doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get cancer. But if cancer is found at an early stage during screening, treatment is more likely to be effective.
Are you suffering in silence?
As many as 1 in 13 adults have problems with bowel control and about half of the population has hemorrhoids by age 50. These problems are rarely discussed and may have a dramatic impact on quality of life. Many people incorrectly assume they are a normal consequence of aging or are normal problems for women after childbirth.
The Colorectal Center at Broward Health Coral Springs is your local resource for colorectal solutions. We are committed to excellence and to providing cutting edge, innovative and improved surgical techniques in order to maximize patient results.
What disease specialties are included in a Colorectal Center?
Our comprehensive program includes physicians and a WOCN (Wound, Ostomy, Continence) advanced registered nurse practitioner specializing in the following:
What makes up your Colorectal Center?
Our colon and rectal specialists are fully trained surgeons with board certification in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of benign and malignant colon and rectal conditions. We are focused on helping you achieve comfort through accurate diagnosis, specialized treatment and follow-up care. Emphasis is placed on the prevention and early detection of colorectal cancer via screening and surveillance programs. Special attention is given to the family history to assess for a possible genetic-familial component to colorectal cancer and polyps including genetic counseling and testing. Minimally invasive laparoscopic colon resections are also available for both benign conditions such as diverticulitis and Crohn's disease as well as for cancer in order to minimize postoperative pain and allow earlier return to work and daily activities. The colorectal program also has specialized ultrasound capability to accurately diagnose rectal cancer and polyps.
Specialty treatments include:
PROCEDURE FOR PROLAPSE HEMORRHOIDS (PPH)
Individuals suffering from hemorrhoids now have access to a minimally invasive procedure called Procedure for Prolapsed Hemorrhoids (PPH). Typically, there is much less pain from hemorrhoid surgery with this approach.
What does the procedure involve?
This procedure involves lifting the hemorrhoidal tissue and placing it back where it belongs – in the original anatomical position. The blood flow to the internal and external hemorrhoids reduces, causing the hemorrhoids to shrink within four to six weeks after the procedure. This same-day surgical procedure is usually performed in 25 to 30 minutes. Patients are under IV sedation and receive local anesthesia for the surgery site. They go home an hour or two following the procedure, experience some discomfort for a few days, and usually can return to work within a week.
How is the PPH Procedure different from other methods of treating hemorrhoids?
Until recently, there were only two major methods of hemorrhoid removal. The surgeon would either remove the affected tissue with a scalpel during a hemorrhoidectomy or tighten tiny rubber bands around the affected area to cut off its blood supply.
Who is a candidate?
Before considering surgery, patients are treated with different medications and a high fiber diet and told not to strain. Physicians grade hemorrhoids on a scale of one to four, with four being the worst. Usually grade one and grade two can be treated with medications, but when a patient reaches grade three and grade four, most of the time surgery is recommended.
The terms ostomy and stoma are general descriptive terms that are often used to describe a surgically created opening in the body for the discharge of body wastes. Successful planning and management of ostomy surgery provides patients the opportunity to lead full, normal, and productive lives. Approximately 750,000 Americans are living with an ostomy and an estimated 75,000 new surgeries are performed each year.
At Broward Health Coral Springs, a board certified wound ostomy continence nurse practitioner and two board certified colon and rectal surgeons are available for consultation as needed. Learn more about the Ostomy Program »
For more information, or a free physician referral, call the Broward Health Line at 954-759-7400.