Under 50 And Colon Cancer: What Should You Know About Colonoscopy Screening?

Posted on: 30 November 2015


If you're under 50 years of age and experience strange problems with your digestive system, such as nausea and painful bowel movements, speak to your doctor about having a colonoscopy done. Although colon cancer typically affects adults 50 years and older, it can develop in young people who have family histories of colon cancer, poor eating habits and several other risk factors. A colonoscopy screening is one of your best defenses against colorectal cancer because it gives doctors a chance to detect and diagnose the disease early. 

How Does Colon Cancer Develop?

Colon cancer develops in your large intestine and rectum when the cells in these tissues forget to die when they complete their tasks, or when the cells mutate or change how they function. Eventually, the abnormal cells clump or stick together and form polyps. Polyps can be benign or noncancerous at first, but quickly turn cancerous without the proper care. 

Small polyps are difficult to detect without a colonoscopy because they usually don't cause pain or irritation in the large intestine or rectum. However, if the polyps grow exceedingly large, they can prevent waste from passing through the colon or your rectum properly. As a result, you can experience pain when you pass bowel movements or digest food. You may even feel nauseous if your colon builds up with unexpelled waste.

A colonoscopy is an effective way to find out why you have problems with your digestive system. It also helps your doctor find polyps.

How Does a Colonoscopy Work?

A colonoscopy involves inserting a thin tube with a tiny camera on the end of it inside your rectum and colon. The camera picks up detailed images of your colon and rectum, including polyps, internal bleeding and inflammation. Polyps can cause bleeding in your rectum when you pass bowel movements. However, the bleeding may not be enough to alert you.

Your doctor may take cultures or blood samples of the blood and stools found inside your rectum and colon for examination. If the doctor finds cancerous cells in the samples, they can plan the right treatment for you. Your options may include cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. These types of treatments kill the dangerous cells in your colon and rectum.

If the samples don't reveal cancer, your doctor may change your diet. For example, if you eat too much red meat, your doctor may take this type of food out of your diet and replace it with vegetables that provide protein and other beneficial nutrients. Red meat, chicken high in hormones and other types of processed meat contain chemicals that change the DNA in your digestive system. Changing your diet may reduce your chances of developing colon cancer.

If you have more questions about colon cancer or colonoscopy screening, contact your doctor today. To find out more, speak with someone like Clinical Gastrointestinal Associates, PC.