The Colon Clinic is for people who are not having symptoms but have risk factors for developing colon cancer. A colonoscopy is a screening tool to detect colon cancer and is considered the "Gold Standard" screening test. Routine colon screening tests and the removal of benign (non-cancerous) masses can decrease your lifetime risk of developing colon cancer by 80 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.
Schedule a screening if you—
- Are between the ages of 50 to 75.
- Have a personal history of polyps or colon cancer.
- Have a family member who was diagnosed with polyps or colon cancer, you should begin screening 10 years prior to the age that they were at time of diagnosis (e.g., father at age 48 then you start screening at age 38).
Your referral will be faxed from your primary care physician to us at the screening colonoscopy clinic. Please Schedule your screening colonoscopy by calling the Clinic Scheduler at (540) 332-5526.
- Family History: First-degree relative (father, mother, brother, sister, or child) who has had colon polyps or colon cancer.
- Personal History: Previous polyps, previous colon cancer removed, or Ulcerative Colitis/Crohn's Disease.
- Age: Higher risk after the age of 50.
- Diet: High fat diets (animal sources) increase the risk of colon cancer.
- Ethnic Background: People of Eastern European descent who are Jewish have a higher risk of colon cancer.
- Alcohol: Colon cancer has been linked to heavy alcohol use.
- Smoking: Studies have showed smokers are 30%-40% more at risk for having colon cancer.
- Lack of exercise: Inactivity puts you at a higher risk of colon cancer.
- Overweight: Being overweight puts you at a higher risk, especially if you have the extra fat in the waist area more so than the hip area.
Are there any symptoms?
Having these symptoms does not mean that you have colon cancer, but you do need to talk to your physician. Some people have colon polyps or colon cancer with no symptoms at all. That is why screening is very valuable.
Symptoms to look for are:
- Changes in bowel movements such as diarrhea or constipation, or if the caliber of stool changes (narrowing) for more than a few days.
- Blood in the stool, on the toilet paper, or any rectal bleeding.
- Cramping or abdominal pain, which is steady.
- Weakness, tiredness or unintentional weight loss of significant amount.
- Feeling of having to have a bowel movement even after having one.
Who should be screened?
The screening process should start at age 50 if there are no factors indicating a high-risk profile. People who are considered high risk are those who have a personal or family history of polyps or colon cancer. If you have a family history then your screening should start 10 years before the age of the family member who was diagnosed (e.g., father at age 48 then you start screening at age 38). Family members include first degree relatives - father, mother, brother, sister or children.
The colonoscopy is considered the "Gold Standard" screening test. It allows the entire length of the large colon to be visualized. A bowel cleansing solution will have to be used and the patient receives sedation for the procedure. The physician will visualize the lining of the colon through the colonoscope and any abnormality can be biopsied or removed at that time. There are other screening tests that can be performed: Fecal Occult Blood Test (stool cards), Flexible Sigmoidoscopy - this visualizes the lower one-third portion of the colon, and Barium Enema. Your physician will discuss these options with you.
How our Screening Colonoscopy Clinic Works
A referral is needed from your primary care physician. You will be contacted by the scheduler to set up your appointment date. We will then call you for a medical screening along with your medication list. A packet of information will be sent to you 2 weeks in advance. Then 2 days before your procedure you will receive a programmed call with your arrival time. On the day of your procedure, you will report to our outpatient surgical suite. After the procedure the physician will review any findings and answer questions. Report of exam, photos, and discharge instructions will be given to you. Copies of any reports will be sent to your referring physician.
Take another look at the risk factors and symptoms. If you have any concerns please talk with your primary care physician. If you do not have a primary care physician, you may call us at (540) 332-5526 and we will assist you in this process. We are committed to helping stamp out the second leading cause of death.