At West Side Gastroenterology on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Dr. Weiss offers colon cancer screening for patients from throughout New York City, helping them understand their risks for colon cancer so they can take steps to prevent or treat the disease.
Colon cancer screening is a diagnostic imaging test that's used to determine if you have polyps, fleshy growths which can sometimes be a precursor to colon cancer. Colon cancer is performed with a colonoscopy, a minimally-invasive procedure that looks inside your colon and your rectum to check for polyps and other abnormal tissue. The American Cancer Society recommends adults undergo screening every 10 years beginning at age 50, or every five years beginning at age 40 if you have risk factors for the disease.
Prior to your colonoscopy, you'll need to take a special preparation to help clear your bowel so the lining can be seen more clearly. Colonoscopy is performed as an outpatient procedure using sedation so you can sleep through it. During the procedure, a flexible instrument called a colonoscope will be inserted through your rectum and into your colon. The colonoscope features a small camera at one end which takes pictures of the inside of the colon and rectum and transmits them back to a monitor for viewing. If a polyp is seen, it can be carefully removed and sent to a lab for further evaluation. Small tissue samples (biopsies) may also be taken for evaluation. Most colonoscopies take about 20 to 30 minutes to perform.
Colon cancer causes few if any symptoms in its early stages, which is why having routine colon cancer screening is so important. As the disease progresses, it can cause symptoms like:
blood bowel movements
abdominal pain or bloating
unexplained weight loss
changes in the consistency of your bowel movements
The symptoms of colon cancer can vary based on the position of the tumor, the size of the tumor and how far the cancer has progressed or spread.