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Colon Cancer Screening

Colon cancer is the third most common type of non-skin cancer in both men (after prostate cancer and lung cancer) and women (after breast cancer and lung cancer). It is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States after lung cancer. Although the rate of new colorectal cancer cases and deaths is decreasing in this country, more than 145,000 new cases were diagnosed and more than 49,000 people died from this disease each year over the past 5 years.

Screening for Colon Cancer

The exact causes of colon cancer are not known. However, studies have shown that certain factors are linked to an increased chance of developing this disease.


Colon Cancer Indications:

  • Age: Colon cancer is more likely to occur as people get older. Although this disease can occur at any age, most people who develop colon cancer are over age 50.
  • Polyps: Polyps are abnormal growths that protrude from the inner wall of the colon or rectum. They are relatively common in people over age 50. Detecting and removing these growths may help prevent colorectal cancer.
  • Personal history: A person who has already had colon cancer is at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer a second time. Some women with a history of ovarian, uterine, or breast cancer have a higher than average chance of developing colon cancer.
  • Family History: Close relatives (parents, siblings, or children) of a person who has had colorectal cancer are somewhat more likely to develop this type of cancer themselves, especially if the family member developed cancer at a young age.
  • Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Colitis: People who have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s colitis are more likely to develop colon cancer than people who do not have these conditions.
  • Diet: Some evidence suggests that the development of colon cancer may be associated with high dietary consumption of red and processed meats and low consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Exercise: Some evidence suggests that obesity and a sedentary lifestyle is associated with an increased risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Smoking: Increasing evidence from epidemiologic studies suggests that cigarette smoking, particularly long-term smoking, increases the risk of colorectal cancer.


Screening And Its Importance

Screening is checking for health problems before they cause symptoms. Colon cancer screening can detect cancer, polyps, nonpolypoid lesions,(flat or slightly depressed areas of abnormal cell growth) and other conditions. Flat or depressed lesions occur less often than polyps, but they may have a greater potential to develop into colorectal cancer. Finding and removing polyps or other areas of abnormal cell growth is the most effective way to prevent colon cancer. Colon cancer (like most cancers) is generally more treatable when it is found early.


The Following Tests Are Available For Colon Cancer Screening:


Virtual Colonoscopy

Double-Contrast Barium Enema

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)

You should talk to your doctor about when to begin screening for colon cancer, which tests to have, the benefits and risks of each test, and the frequency of testing.



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Meet Jennifer Bonheur, MD

Dr. Jennifer Bonheur is a board-certified gastroenterologist who loves her work and values her relationships with her patients. As a female gastroenterologist, she strives to connect and treat the patient and not simply the illness. Dr. Bonheur offers specialized care in gastroenterology and therapeutic endoscopy. Together with her staff, she is committed to providing the highest quality medical care in a comfortable, professional and personalized environment. Learn More »