When To Have a Colorectal Cancer Screening


If you are considering colorectal cancer screening in Burlingame, CA, it is vital that you discuss what type of test is best for you with Dr. Ernest Ribera at Burlingame Gastroenterology & Hepatology.

When it comes to testing for colorectal cancer, you have options. Which option is the right one for you will depend on your age and your risk level. Some tests are more invasive than others, which is something to consider. Colorectal screening is testing to look for cancer before you have symptoms of the disease. The obvious time to have cancer screening is before you have cancer. Catching cancer early allows treatment to begin hopefully before it has spread.

When To Start Screening

The American Cancer Association recommends that people at average risk for colorectal cancer begin screening at age 45. This is five years sooner than previous recommendations due to the increased incidence of this type of cancer in younger Americans. If you have some risk factors, your doctor may suggest that you be tested at an even younger age.

After your initial screening, the frequency of screening will be determined by your risk factors and the results of your screening. If polyps are found, the recommended time frame between screenings will be shorter. Normally, every 10 years is the recommendation

Types of Colorectal Cancer Screening Available

Fecal occult blood tests are done by testing a sample of stool for blood. This test can be done at home and sent to the lab to be tested. It is completely non-invasive.

Sigmoidoscopy is a test that involves inserting a sigmoidoscope into the rectum. It is a flexible tube with a light and camera that looks for polyps and any unusual conditions in the sigmoid colon. The sigmoid colon is the lower colon. It may have an instrument to remove any polyps that are found. 

Colonoscopy is similar to a sigmoidoscopy except that it goes deeper into the colon, looking for polyps. This is the most common type of colorectal cancer screening in Burlingame, CA. 

Virtual colonoscopy is a procedure that uses a series of x-rays to do a virtual picture of the inside of the colon. It is non-invasive and, for some people, is a better option. Trials are being conducted to determine if it is as effective as a traditional colonoscopy. Doctors are also not able to remove polyps during a virtual screening. 

DNA stool test checks the DNA in the stool for changes in the cells that may indicate cancer is present.   

To make an appointment to discuss colorectal cancer screening in Burlingame, CA, contact Dr. Ribera's office at Burlingame Gastroenterology & Hepatology at (650) 342-6506.

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Burlingame Gastroenterology & Hepatology

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