Colorectal Cancer Screening
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Screening for Colorectal Cancer
Screening tests are tests used to look for diseases, such as cancer, before an individual shows signs or symptoms of the disease. Undergoing regular colorectal cancer screening tests is very important, as it can help to prevent the disease or detect it early on. All too often, the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer do not appear until the disease is in an advanced stage.
Colorectal cancer screening guidelines recommend that people over the age of 50 and those who have risk factors for developing the disease, such as a family history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, are examined regularly.
Most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp (a growth of tissue that develops in the lining of the colon or rectum). Screening tests, such as a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, enable doctors to check for colorectal polyps and abnormalities in the colon and rectum. If small polyps are found, doctors may be able to remove them.
Polyps and tissue samples obtained during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy can then be analyzed under a microscope to determine if cancer is present. Often, colorectal cancer screening helps doctors find and remove polyps before they become cancerous.
Other colorectal cancer screening tests include laboratory tests, which examine stool samples to check for cancer. These tests, which are less invasive than a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, include a fecal occult blood test, fecal immunochemical test and stool DNA test.
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