Dr. Maher Abbas is an American Board Certified Colon and Rectal Surgeon who performs the latest and most advanced procedures to treat conditions affecting the small intestine, colon, rectum, and anus. He is a leader in minimally invasive and endoscopic surgery. With over 14,000 operations and procedures experience, he provides state of the art treatment to his patients.
Why get screened for colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer is now the second to third most common cancer in the world. An increased risk was recently noted in young people (age < 50 years). Colorectal cancer affects the large intestine [Figure 1]. It usually starts as a small polyp that grows into a cancer [Figure 2]. Colorectal cancer screening SAVES LIVES! The detection and removal of colon polyps prevents cancer. When colon cancer is discovered at an early stage (before it spreads to other parts of the body), it is treatable and curable.
Figure 1 – The large intestine
Figure 2 – Colon polyp (growth)
What is colorectal cancer screening?
The goal of colorectal cancer screening is to detect polyps and cancer at an early stage. Polyps grow over several years and removing them prevents cancer. Most patients with polyps and early cancer have no symptoms. Discovering these growths before they cause a problem is very important. Several tests are available for colorectal cancer screening:
- Imaging X-RAY studies such as CT colonography and barium enema
- Stool tests such as fecal occult blood test (FOBT), fecal immunochemical test (FIT), and stool DNA test
Colonoscopy [Figure 3] is the best and most sensitive test to find and remove polyps. Colonoscopy is superior to imaging studies and stool tests. During the procedure, the entire colon is inspected and any abnormal growth is removed or biopsied.
Figure 3 – Colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening
Who should undergo colorectal cancer screening?
Everyone is at risk for developing colorectal cancer. The majority of patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer have no family history of cancer. Several recent studies have reported an increased risk in young people. It is important to note that most patients with colorectal polyps or early cancer have no symptoms. If you meet any of the following criteria, you should consider getting screened for colorectal cancer even if you have no symptoms:
- Over the age of 40 years
- Strong family history of
o Colorectal cancer or polyps
o Hereditary cancer or polyp syndromes
o Multiple family members with any type of gastrointestinal cancer, gynecologic cancer (ovaries or uterus), breast cancer. Especially if diagnosis at young age (< 50 years)
Furthermore, if you have any of the following symptoms, you should consider having a colonoscopy:
- Abdominal pain, cramping, spasm
- Anemia (iron deficiency)
- Bloating and gas
- Change in your bowel habits
- Constipation or difficulty with evacuation
- Diarrhea or loose frequent stools
- Family history of colorectal polyps and cancer
- Positive stool test for blood or inflammation
- Rectal bleeding
- Unexplained weight loss
If you would like to schedule a consultation for colorectal cancer screening and colonoscopy with Dr. Maher Abbas, click here.