Why should I get screened for colon cancer?
Colon cancer, also called colorectal cancer, is a growth of abnormal cells in a person’s colon. Colon cancer screening detects any abnormal growths, called polyps, in the colon. If these growths are found early, they can often be treated before they become cancerous.
Colon cancer is usually preventable with regular screening. Screening also reduces a person’s risk of dying from colorectal cancer by 60 percent.
Who needs to be screened for colon cancer?
This type of cancer affects men and women equally, and nearly one in every 20 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. We recommend that every person over the age of 45 get screened. How often you need to get screened depends on the type of testing you choose to do.
If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, irritable bowel disease or other cancers, you may want to get screened at a younger age. Speak to your primary care doctor to find out when and how often you should get a screening.
Where can I get screened?
Denver Health offers colorectal cancer screening at our Gastroenterology Lab on the Denver Health main campus, located in downtown Denver. We recommend speaking to your primary care doctor about screening first. Your doctor can then refer you to our clinic for the appropriate testing.
How much does colorectal cancer screening cost?
The cost of colorectal cancer screening varies depending on your insurance plan. If you don’t have insurance, we offer self-pay options. For the most up-to-date cost for a colonoscopy (the most common screening procedure), check our Price Transparency page.
Denver Health also offers financial assistance programs for those facing financial hardship. To learn more, call 303-602-3466.
What are the symptoms of colon cancer?
Colon cancer may not cause symptoms right away, but if it does, it may cause one or more of these symptoms:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool, which may make the stool look dark
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
What is the treatment for colon cancer?
Treatment for colon cancer is dependent on the severity (stage) of cancer at the time of diagnosis and may include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or other targeted treatments.
What else can I do to reduce my risk of colon cancer?
Developing healthy lifestyle habits, such as the following, may also help lower your risk of colorectal cancer:
- Regular exercise
- Eating a high-fiber diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Reducing alcohol and tobacco use
The Denver Health Gastroenterology Lab offers the following screening and diagnostic procedures:
- Upper endoscopy (also called esophagogastroduodenoscopy)
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Capsule endoscopy
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography
- Endoscopic ultrasound
- And more