Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Detecting Colon Cancer

olon Cancer is among the most dangerous forms of cancer. Yet it is also among the most preventable. The symptoms, in which it manifests itself, are easily detectable and allow patients to stop the cancer from developing past its early stages.

These range from constipation and thinning of the stool to bleeding in stool and nausea. However, Colon cancer does not necessarily show it symptoms early. Colon Cancers which occur at the top of the Colon may not allow bleeding to be as obvious and thus may go undetected. Therefore, it is recommended that people above the age of 40 get regular checkups and screening. These screenings are conducted in various manners.

• Fecal occult blood test (FOBT): This test detects hidden blood in stool. Research has proven that FOBT conducted every 1-2 years among the age group 50-80, reduces the risk of colon cancer by 15 to 33 %.

• Sigmoidoscopy: This test is conducted by using a lighted instrument called a sigmoidoscope, to examine the rectum and lower colon. The process allows precancerous and cancerous growths to be identified and purged and has been shown to reduce the incidence of colon cancer sharply.

• Colonoscopy: Similar to sigmoidoscopy, this process however examines the entire colon using a lighted instrument called a colonoscope. Patients are occasionally administered a sedative to perform this test.

• Vitual Colonoscopy: This process involves the use of x rays to take images of the colon and rectum which are then processed in a computer. These images enable the computer to make a detailed image of the colon and detect any cancerous growths. As this process is less invasive, virtual colonoscopy is usually less painful and requires less time.

• Double contrast barium enema (DCBE): In this test, the patient is given an enema with a barium solution and air is introduced to allow the solution to outline the colon and the rectum. X rays are then taken to detect the presence of polyps. Although this test does not detect all of the small polyps, it does provide adequate imaging to prevent Colon cancer to an extent.

• Digital rectal exam (DRE): In this test, the medical examiner inserts a lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for any outgrowths. This procedure is only effective for lower parts of the Colon.

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