Understanding Colorectal Cancer: The Lifesaving Power of Early Detection

Have you ever considered how a simple screening could save your life? It’s something we often overlook, but when it comes to colorectal cancer, early detection can make all the difference. Colorectal cancer is a formidable foe, but one that we can combat effectively with awareness and timely action.

We hope to give you some information that helps you unravel some of the mysteries behind colorectal cancer and screening: how to better understand its signs, explore the various screening methods available, and learn when and how to take action. And for those seeking expert guidance, we’ll introduce you to our dedicated gastroenterologists who are at the forefront of the fight against this disease.

The Vital Role of Early Detection

Imagine if you had the power to stop a problem before it even begins. That’s the power of early detection when it comes to colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer often starts without any symptoms, silently and stealthily. But with early detection, the chances of beating it are significantly higher.

Why is this so important? Detected early, colorectal cancer is not just treatable; in many cases, it’s preventable. Regular screening can find precancerous polyps—small growths that might become cancerous—allowing doctors to remove them before they turn into a full-blown cancer. It’s like nipping the problem in the bud.

But here’s a fact that might surprise you: Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, excluding skin cancers. And yet, it’s one of the most preventable. Regular screenings are our best weapon in this fight, a silent guardian watching over our health.

So, what’s holding us back? For many, it’s about taking that first step, making that appointment, and prioritizing our health. Let’s make early detection a priority, not an afterthought. Because when it comes to your health, being proactive is not just a choice; it’s a necessity.

Understanding the Signs

When it comes to colorectal cancer, recognizing the early signs can be a bit tricky because they’re often subtle and easily overlooked. But being aware of them can make a world of difference.

So, what should you keep an eye out for? Here are some signs and symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored:

  • Changes in Bowel Habits: An unexplained change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation, that lasts for more than a few days, deserves attention.
  • Rectal Bleeding or Blood in Your Stool: Seeing blood in your stool can be alarming, and it’s a sign that something’s not right.
  • Persistent Abdominal Discomfort: This could include cramps, gas, or pain that doesn’t seem to go away.
  • A Feeling That Your Bowel Doesn’t Empty Completely: If you constantly feel like you’re not fully relieved after a bowel movement, it’s worth mentioning to your doctor.
  • Weakness or Fatigue: Feeling unusually weak or tired can be a sign of various conditions, including colorectal cancer.
  • Unintended Weight Loss: Losing weight without trying might sound like a welcome surprise, but it can also be a red flag for health issues.

Remember, these symptoms can be caused by many conditions other than colorectal cancer. But if you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s not time to panic—it’s time to talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you determine the cause and the best course of action.

It’s also worth noting that colorectal cancer can be present without any symptoms, especially in the early stages. That’s why regular screenings are so crucial—they can detect problems before symptoms even arise.

Exploring Screening Options

Deciding to get screened for colorectal cancer is a proactive step towards taking control of your health. But with several screening options available, how do you choose which one is right for you? Let’s demystify the options!

  1. Colonoscopy: Think of a colonoscopy as a comprehensive internal examination of your colon. It’s the most thorough screening option and can detect polyps and cancer. Plus, if any polyps are found, they can be removed on the spot. It’s recommended every 10 years for most people, but preparation is quite involved—you’ll need to follow a special diet and take laxatives beforehand.
  2. CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy): This non-invasive option uses CT scans to get a detailed image of your colon. It’s less daunting than a traditional colonoscopy because it doesn’t require sedation. However, if polyps are found, you’ll need a follow-up colonoscopy for removal. It’s recommended every 5 years.
  3. Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: This procedure is similar to a colonoscopy but less extensive. It examines just the lower part of your colon. It’s less invasive and doesn’t require full sedation, making it a quicker option. It’s usually recommended every 5 years, often in conjunction with stool tests.
  4. Stool-based Tests: These tests are convenient and done in the privacy of your home. They check for hidden blood or abnormal DNA in your stool, which can be signs of polyps or cancer. If the test comes back positive, you’ll need a colonoscopy for further examination. These tests are done annually or every 3 years, depending on the specific test.

Each screening option has its pros and cons, and the best choice for you can depend on various factors like your age, health history, and personal preferences. Discussing these options with your healthcare provider can help you make an informed decision.

Remember, the best screening test is the one that gets done. So, choose the option that you’re most comfortable with and that fits your lifestyle. Taking this step is a powerful move in protecting your health and well-being.

Meet the Experts

When it comes to navigating the complexities of colorectal cancer screening and treatment, having an expert by your side can make all the difference. With years of experience in the field of gastroenterology, our gastroenterologists bring a wealth of knowledge, compassion, and dedication to their practices. They understand that each patient’s journey is unique and believe in a personalized approach to healthcare. Whether it’s discussing screening options, interpreting results, or guiding you through treatment, our team is there to support you every step of the way.

If you’re considering colorectal cancer screening or have concerns about your digestive health, request an appointment online at https://avitahealth.org/find-a-doctor.


Remember, colorectal cancer doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone, regardless of age or background. But with the right knowledge, proactive approach, and timely action, we have the power to change the narrative. Screening is our ally, working behind the scenes to keep us safe. We encourage you to take that crucial step forward. Discuss your screening options with your healthcare provider, understand your personal risk factors, and make an informed decision about which screening method suits you best. And if you’re looking for expert guidance, our gastroenterologists are here to support you, offering expert advice and compassionate care every step of the way.