Your Colon

The American Cancer Society says a colonoscopy is the best cancer screening method because the entire colon and rectum can be seen. A tube with a camera tip is maneuvered so polyps can be found and removed. If your colon is healthy, you don’t have to have the procedure repeated as often. But colon screenings are essential part of regular checkups. If you have cancerous polyps and don’t show any symptoms yet, your chances of being cured are 90%.

Colon Cancer

No one likes the thought of cancer—especially colon cancer. So, many otherwise health-conscious adults are embarrassed or afraid to talk about it. This silence has allowed colon cancer to become quite common.

It is now the leading cause of cancer deaths in non-smokers. Only lung cancer is more deadly. In fact, this year there will be 134,000 new cases and 55,000 deaths caused by colon cancer. Yet, it’s surprisingly easy to lower your risk of this disease. Knowing some simple facts could save your life.

  • Colon cancer is the second leading cancer killer in both men and women.
  • Colonoscopies are excellent screening tools that can detect polyps or abnormalities. Polyps, if not removed, can later form into cancerous polyps.
  • Most insurances will recommend that a patient have a screening colonoscopy at the age of 50. *Please check with your insurance company regarding colonoscopy coverage.
  • Diagnostic colonoscopies are also conducted for anyone of any age who is experiencing symptoms of colorectal cancer.
  • Our team can provide you preparation instructions that can support you in easing your colonoscopy prep experience.

The Intestines

Your intestinal tract is a 30-foot pipe. Most digestion occurs in the small intestine where food molecules are broken down into components the body uses for strength, energy, and tissue repair. After this process, waste travels to the large intestine, or colon.

Averaging about five feet in length, the colon is like a water treatment plant, receiving about two gallons of liquid waste daily, purifying the water, and recycling it to your bloodstream for reuse. The remaining solid waste is stored in the last six inches of the colon—the rectum—until a bowel movement.


Colon cancer is a malignant growth on the inner wall of the colon or rectum. It usually begins years earlier as a small non-cancerous growth called a polyp. Some polyps grow until they develop into cancer. This malignant transformation may take as long as five years.

Who Is at Risk?

Men and women are equally affected, usually after age 50. Factors like family history may increase risk, but 75% of cases have no usual risk factors. Risk does, however, increase with age.

The Good News

If caught early, 90% of colon cancer cases could be cured. Even better, colon cancer can be prevented by finding and removing polyps before they become cancer. Most polyps can be painlessly removed during a simple 20-minute outpatient procedure called a colonoscopy.

Screening Exams

How do you know if you have a polyp? You don’t. To be safe, you must have periodic colon checkups, just like you have mammograms or prostate exams, before you have symptoms.

If You Have Symptoms

If you have rectal bleeding, altered bowel habits, unexplained iron-deficiency anemia, or a positive test for hidden blood in your stool (hemocult), see your doctor for a full investigation, not a screening exam.

Average Risk Individuals with No Symptoms

Most people fit into this category. The American Cancer Society recommends screenings by a colonoscopy at age 50 for those with no symptoms and no high risk factors. In individuals with certain risk factors, screenings may need to start at an earlier age. Your doctor can discuss this with you. There are three advantages to colonoscopy:

  • Higher accuracy because the entire colon is seen.
  • Most polyps can be removed right then.
  • If you don’t have polyps or other problems, you don’t have to repeat the colonoscopy as often.

Reduce Your Risk

Regular checkups and/or colonoscopies before symptoms develop are the cornerstone of prevention. You may further reduce your risk by eating a high fiber diet containing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Trim fat from your diet. Eat more fish and chicken and less beef, pork, and lamb.