A Colonoscopy Isn’t Your Only Option

Colon screenings are vital to ensure your body stays healthy and to uncover any early signs of cancer. Experts recommend a colonoscopy (which examines the entire rectum and colon) every 10 years for those who are 50 years of age or older.

A colonoscopy is the gold standard of colorectal cancer screening, but we know that many people are hesitant about the procedure. Depending on your personal history and risk factors, other cancer screening options are available at Tulane Health System.

Other Colorectal Screening Options

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – An examination of the rectum and lower part of the colon.
  • Digital rectal exam – An exam that checks for irregularities. This test can detect about half of colon cancers and can usually be administered by a New Orleans primary care physician.
  • Fecal occult blood test – A lab test used to look for blood in the stool. You can talk to your primary care doctor about this test.
  • Stool DNA test – A lab test used to look for DNA changes in cells. It can also detect blood in stool. This test can usually be performed by your primary care physician.
  • X-ray of the large intestine or barium enema – Provides a picture of the colon and can assist in identifying polyps.
  • Biopsy – The doctor removes a tissue sample which is sent for examination.
  • Virtual colonoscopy – Uses computer software and a CT scan to check for colon polyps.

For more information, call (504) 988-6300.

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Colon Cancer Risk Factors

Routine screening is your best defense against colorectal cancer. But there are still other things you can do to reduce your risk. While not all risk factors can be altered, some can. And early-stage colon cancer doesn’t usually have symptoms. That’s why it’s important to know the risk factors and make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce your risk.

  • Age – 50 years old or older
  • Physical inactivity and obesity – Research shows a link between obesity and colon cancer. Regular exercise is key to overall health.
  • Diet – A diet high in red and processed meats may lead to a higher chance of developing colon cancer. High amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains have been associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer
  • Family history – A family history of cancer can put you at a higher risk
  • Smoking – People with a long history of smoking are more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer
  • Alcohol – Heavy alcohol use has been linked to colon cancer
  • Diabetes – Research shows a connection between type 2 diabetes and colon cancer
  • Race – African-Americans and Native Americans are at higher risk