Do Your Know the Risks, Signs, and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?

Do Your Know the Risks, Signs, and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?

Summary: Knowing the signs, symptoms, and risks of colorectal cancer, and your family’s history of this disease, can help you better manage your GI health.


“You have cancer” is something no one wishes to hear. Regardless of whether the diagnosis concerns you, a close friend, or a member of your family, it usually causes feelings of fear and significant concern. At Arizona Digestive Health, however, we believe that being mindful of the risks can help you better manner a cancer diagnosis. Becoming familiar with the symptoms, indications, and your family’s history of colorectal cancer can help to catch the disease in the early stages and provide you with more options to consider when it comes to treatment.

How is colorectal cancer detected?

Colorectal cancer develops in the colon (large intestine) or rectum. Often referred to as “colon cancer” or “rectal cancer,” this disease leads cells in the large intestine or rectum to multiply out of control. Colorectal cancer can generally be treated, so our specialists recommend that people 45 years of age and older have a routine colon cancer screening in Phoenix, AZ to decrease their chances of having this disease go undetected. Additionally, if you have had a close relative with colon cancer or if you have been diagnosed with a digestive condition, like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, it is essential to start screening for colon cancer as soon as you turn 45.

Signs and symptoms for improved colon cancer awareness

Aside from recommending that you schedule colorectal cancer screenings periodically, we also recommend learning about the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer. Although they might not be apparent initially, knowing these indications may help to detect the cancer in the initial stages.

Typical signs and symptoms of colon cancer might include the following:

  • A change in your bowel movements or bowel habits
  • Blood in your stool
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Persistent cramps, aches, or abdominal pains
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Difficulty emptying bowels

Though these signs or symptoms might seem indistinct, when repetitive, it is ideal to reserve an appointment at Arizona Digestive Health so one of our experienced GI doctors can learn more about the condition. Our Phoenix, AZ gastroenterologists prefer to err on the side of caution when it comes to your health.

Can I develop colon or rectal cancer if someone in my family has it?

Should you have a relative or family member that has been diagnosed with colon and rectal cancer, it is important to know that you could have an elevated chance of developing the disease. You can use this information to your benefit and make informed choices about your health.

It is essential that when meeting with a gastroenterologist, you relay as much of your family medical history as you can. During your consultation, it is wise to provide details about the health history of your immediate family members, including your father, mother, sisters, and brothers, and your father and mother’s sides of the family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and more). You should provide the form of cancer your relative had, when it was discovered, and if the cancer was the reason for death. Providing these details can help our experts curate the best preventive treatment plan for your needs.

At Arizona Digestive Health, we might recommend that when you have an immediate family member who has had colon cancer, you start getting colonoscopies around the age of 30. When the family member is not an immediate family member, we suggest colorectal cancer screenings beginning around 45 years of age.

Get screened for colorectal cancer in Phoenix, AZ

Though being diagnosed with cancer is always frightening, having knowledge of signs, symptoms, and risk factors can help you understand your chances of colon cancer and receive a diagnosis as early as possible. At Arizona Digestive Health, we are here for you and ready to help screen for and detect colorectal cancer. To connect with a gastrointestinal doctor in Phoenix, AZ, contact our team to schedule a consultation.

Are Colonoscopies the Gold Standard for Detecting Colon and Rectal Cancer?

Are Colonoscopies the Gold Standard for Detecting Colon and Rectal Cancer?

Summary: A colonoscopy is regarded as the gold standard for catching and preventing colorectal cancer over other types of tests, like home screenings.


Roughly 50,000 people in the United States pass away from colon and rectal cancer annually. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women combined. Luckily, it is generally treatable and, when discovered early, the prognosis can be extremely good.

The Food and Drug Administration has passed three kinds of home-based tests for colon and rectal cancer. These tests operate by finding abnormal deviations in the feces, such as bleeding or DNA indicators for colorectal cancer. Although the comparative simplicity of these exams might make them appear like an ideal alternative, it is critical to understand that the colonoscopy continues to be the best option for the diagnosis and prevention of colon and rectal cancer. If you are in the Phoenix, AZ area, a gastroenterologist who can provide a colon cancer screening is accessible at an Arizona Digestive Health facility near you.

Why undergo a colon cancer screening?

Rapid identification is critical to beating colon and rectal cancer. When cancer is identified in the rectum or colon (large intestine) before it has time to metastasize, the five-year chance of survival is close to 90%. Although different approaches of testing for colon and rectal cancer are available, none have proven to be as reliable and as precise as the colonoscopy screening. The best weapons in the fight against colorectal cancer are colorectal cancer knowledge and regular colonoscopies.

What can I expect with a colonoscopy?

To begin your procedure, your GI specialist will provide you with some preparatory instructions to make sure your bowel is empty during the screening. These instructions may contain:

  • Taking a laxative: Your GI physician may offer you a laxative or “bowel prep” to empty your bowels either the evening prior to or the day of your screening.
  • Regulating medications: If you take certain medications for blood pressure, heart problems, or diabetes, then you might need to modify your dosage or stop taking them temporarily.
  • Fasting: You may be instructed to abstain from solid food and ingest only clear liquids for a set period of time before your exam.

Throughout the procedure, you will possibly be provided a mild form of sedative to help you remain relaxed and then instructed to lie on your side. A narrow, flexible scope with a video camera on the end will be fed into your large intestine (colon) through your rectum. This scope, or colonoscope, is long enough to extend throughout your whole large intestine. Your colonoscopy doctor will examine the live feed from the colonoscope’s camera on a special monitor and look for any irregularities. In the event a growth (polyp) or any other abnormal area is detected, special instruments can be utilized through the scope to capture tissue samples for biopsy evaluation.

When should I receive a colonoscopy screening?

Per the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), adults should schedule their first colonoscopy screening at 45 years of age and then once every ten years if there is an average risk for the disease. When an increased chance of having colorectal cancer exists, our gastroenterologists may suggest a colonoscopy once every 3 – 5 years. Common colorectal cancer risk factors include:

  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Personal history of multiple polyps, large polyps, or colon cancer
  • GI conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

A GI doctor might also recommend a colonoscopy exam when any of the following signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer are present:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent constipation
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Blood in your stool

Phoenix, AZ residents who are displaying these signs are urged to contact Arizona Digestive Health to meet with a gastroenterologist right away.

Why are colonoscopies the gold standard for colorectal cancer screenings?

While a few home-based screening tests have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, a colonoscopy remains the most effective procedure for detecting colon and rectal cancer. In addition, large or potentially malignant polyps can be excised through a colonoscopy which minimizes the need for further treatments. An individual who tests positive on a home-based screening kit will still need to schedule a colonoscopy to confirm those results and have any cancerous or precancerous polyps removed.

Need a colonoscopy in Phoenix, AZ?

For adults age 45 and older, having periodic colon and rectal cancer screenings is a central part of maintaining your health. A colonoscopy exam at Arizona Digestive Health can effectively diagnose and prevent colon and rectal cancer, providing you a good fighting chance if the cancer is identified early on and comfort if you are cancer-free. To schedule a colonoscopy in Phoenix, AZ, or for more information about protecting your health against colorectal cancer, please reach out to our gastroenterology practice today.