A colon test is a procedure that looks inside your colon and examines it for abnormalities. Also known as colonoscopy, it involves the use of a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera on the end (a colonoscope), which allows images to be projected onto a screen. A colonoscopy is used to investigate gastrointestinal symptoms or screen for colon cancer.
People under the age of 40 may not be thinking of a colonoscopy yet, however, some, especially those who are considered at high risk for the disease, should have a discussion with their doctor about whether it’s time to start getting colonoscopies. Doctors base their recommendation on several factors, such as symptoms, family history, and age.
Signs It’s Time to Schedule a Colonoscopy
If you agree with any of the following, a colonoscopy may be warranted.
- You are experiencing abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or chronic constipation or diarrhea, all of which could be symptoms of colon cancer and other gastrointestinal conditions. A colonoscopy can help doctors rule out or confirm colon cancer.
- You are over the age of 45. Age is a risk factor for colon cancer.
- You have a family history of colon cancer or a close relative was diagnosed with colon cancer. Colon cancer may be hereditary but many who get diagnosed do not have colon cancer in their family.
- You have inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease, which increase colon cancer risk.
- You have a history of large or high-risk adenomas, which are noncancerous tumors in your colon that increase your risk of developing colon cancer.
Other tests such as stool DNA are less sensitive and may not adequately detect colon polyps. Moreover, if abnormalities are found, more testing is needed. A colonoscopy, provided that you choose a trusted provider and follow the prep instructions carefully, is a single session that can provide your doctor with the information they need to make a diagnosis or adequately screen for colon cancer.
Colonoscopies are part of routine health care, however, patients do not need a colonoscopy every year. Recommendations are usually every 5 to 10 years. An added benefit of starting colon cancer screenings is patients get to have a discussion with their doctor about ways to reduce their risk for colon cancer. It is also an opportunity for doctors to make tailored recommendations for their patients regarding diet and lifestyle.
Colon Cancer Screening in California
The board-certified gastrointestinal doctors at inSite Digestive Health Care advocate for our patients’ colon health. We also offer other colon tests such as fecal immunochemical test (FIT), sigmoidoscopy, and capsule endoscopy.
If you are experiencing abdominal pain and other symptoms during a bowel movement or would like to schedule a colonoscopy, our doctors are ready to help. Schedule an appointment with one of our GI doctors now. Call our clinic nearest you or use our convenient appointment request form. Medicare and almost all private insurances cover colon cancer screening via colonoscopy. Call us to find out what else is covered by your insurance provider.