The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force strongly recommends screening for colorectal cancer for both men and women. Most colorectal cancers begin as a growth in the tissue that lines the inner surface of the colon or rectum, also known as a polyp. Prevention of colon cancer starts by undergoing screening to detect and remove polyps from the colon before they become cancerous. Screening methods to find colon or rectal changes that may lead to cancer include laboratory tests such as fecal occult blood tests (FOBT), which checks for blood in the stool, and imaging tests such as sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy using an endoscope. An endoscope is a long, narrow, flexible tube with a light and video camera. During an endoscopy, this endoscope is used by your surgeon to examine your upper and lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract using a video screen.
An upper GI endoscopy is a special exam that allows your Community Care general surgeon to look directly into your upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). Upper GI endoscopy helps diagnose cancer and can be used to take a biopsy as well, or a sample of tissue taken for analysis, to remove foreign objects or growths.
Your Community Care general surgeon can exam your lower gastrointestinal tract using lower endoscopy. Your entire colon and rectum can be examined (colonoscopy) or just the rectum and sigmoid colon can be examined (sigmoidoscopy). A lower GI endoscopy may be used for screening for colon or rectal cancer. During the endoscopy procedure growths (or polyps) may also be removed and a biopsy of tissue can be taken.
These screening tests can reduce the chance of developing colorectal cancer and, if colorectal cancer is found, the disease can usually be cured if caught early on.