What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. By the time the condition reaches an advanced stage, the odds of overcoming it are less likely. However, when detected early, colorectal cancer can be effectively treated. By the time symptoms are apparent, colorectal cancer is often in a very advanced stage. It's important to have regular screenings once you reach the age of 50, and you may need to consider screenings sooner if there is a family history of this kind of cancer. The best way to determine the best course of action is by consulting with a gastroenterology specialist, but additional information is highlighted below.

Colorectal cancer is a broad term for specific types of cancer like colon cancer and rectal cancer. In its early stages, polyps usually appear in the large intestine or rectum. In the earliest stages, these polyps are typically noncancerous. Over time, though, these benign polyps are very likely to develop into cancerous growths. As the growths grow larger, noticeable symptoms may start to develop. If colorectal cancer is detected while it is still in an early stage, the polyps can be removed with fewer complications.

Detecting Colorectal Cancer Early

One of the main reasons colorectal cancer is so lethal is because it often goes undetected until it is too late. By detecting polyps while they are still benign, gastroenterologists can remove them and ward off colon cancer and rectal cancer. The most effective way to detect colorectal cancer in its earliest stages is by performing a colonoscopy.

When is the Right Time to have a Colonoscopy?

In general, you should have your first colonoscopy when you turn 50. However, if you have a family history of the condition or other risk factors, your gastroenterologist may advise you to undergo the procedure sooner. This short procedure could save your life.