Understanding Your Colorectal Cancer Screening Options

When many people think about their healthcare needs, colorectal cancer is likely not very high on the priority list. However, as people continue their journey through life and continue to grow and age, the possibility of developing colorectal cancer grows along with them. There will eventually come a time when you will need to begin having regular colorectal cancer screenings performed to help reduce your chances of developing advanced colorectal cancer before a diagnosis is made. There are numerous options available and some in development to screen for this type of cancer. Get to know more about some of these options so that you can be sure that you choose the right screening method for you.

Standard Colonoscopy

A standard colonoscopy is the most commonly used colorectal screening procedure performed today. In this type of procedure, a physician will insert a small tube-like device into the body through the rectum. This tube, known as a colonoscope, will move through the rectum and into the colon. Because of the nature of this procedure, a person will either be put under general anesthesia or sedated and given a local anesthetic to keep them still, calm, and relaxed throughout.

The physician will be able to get a clear view of the colon and rectum and look for what are known as polyps and other suspicious growths or issues. Polyps are small bumps inside of the colon or rectum that may be cancerous or precancerous. During a standard colonoscopy, if any such growths are found, the physician can remove them during the colonoscopy procedure to be analyzed in the lab for possible cancer cells.

Virtual Colonoscopy

A virtual colonoscopy is another option for colorectal cancer screening. It is also sometimes referred to as a CT (computerized tomography) colonoscopy and is a less invasive procedure than a standard colonoscopy.

Virtual colonoscopies are a type of x-ray test that can be performed quickly and painlessly in a doctor's office or hospital. The scan creates a three-dimensional image of the interior of the colon and rectum without the doctor's having to insert a colonoscope or other device into the body. This procedure can also use what is known as contrast material that the patient drinks before the procedure is completed. This can help to brighten the scan and better highlight any potential areas of concern.

While virtual colonoscopies may sound preferable to a standard colonoscopy to many people, it is possible that smaller polyps and issues in the inner lining of the colon could potentially be missed in a virtual colonoscopy. Additionally, if any abnormalities are detected, a separate procedure will be needed to remove the growths for testing and biopsy.

Now that you better understand a few of your options for colorectal cancer screenings, you can be sure that you are choosing the right option for you and your circumstances. Contact a healthcare provider such as Northwest Gastroenterology Associates for more information or to set up an appointment.