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Piedmont Cancer

Colon & Rectal Cancer

Early Detection Critical for Colon and Rectal Cancer

Colon and rectal cancers combined are the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. In 2016, an estimated 134, 490 cases in this country are expected to be diagnosed. One of the most important tests for colon cancer is the screening colonoscopy which should be performed starting at age 50, or 10 years before the youngest person in your family to have cancer or polyps. If nothing is found, an individual with normal risk should have a colonoscopy every 10 years. Testing for colon cancer should also be performed as part of the annual physical examination. This requires a rectal exam and a chemical test for occult (invisible) blood in the stool using the guaiac test.

Understanding Colon and Rectal Cancer Risk Factors

Most colon and rectal cancers start as polyps and may show no symptoms for years before detection. This is why colonoscopy screening is important. Symptoms, such as abdominal pain and bloating, indicate a more advanced disease. Screening is even more important in individuals at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. A family history of colon cancer is a contributing factor and certain populations have an increased risk including African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews. Also, having diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease increases the risk of cancer. Several other factors increase your risk of cancer, but are within your control, including:

  • Consumption of red meat and processed meat
  • Heavy alcohol intake
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

Contact a Piedmont Specialist

For an appointment with a Piedmont GI (gastroenterologist) or colorectal specialist near you, call 404-425-1800 or use our convenient Find a Doctor search.