Excluding skin cancer, colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States. In 2010, the National Cancer Institute estimated that there could be 102,900 new cases of colon cancer and 39,670 cases of rectal cancer in the United States, with 51,370 deaths making colorectal cancer the second leading cancer-related killer in the US. More than 90% of those diagnosed with this disease are over the age of 50. In addition, research shows that up to 2.3% of people with bleeding hemorrhoids also have colon cancer.
Colon cancer has been called a “silent killer” as there are often no symptoms. Occasionally, patients may experience non-specific symptoms such as blood in the stool, a change in bowel habits, diarrhea, constipation, stools that are narrower than usual, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, bloating, cramps, gas, nausea or vomiting.
The colon, also known as the large intestine or large bowel, constitutes the last part of the digestive tract. Its purpose is to receive undigested food from the small intestine, which is ultimately, eliminated from the body though bowel movements.
Cancer of the colon is result of two types of tumors: cancerous or benign. The cancerous tumor starts in the large intestine and spreads to other parts of the body. Benign tumors of the colon are called polyps and do not spread to other parts of the body like cancerous tumors do.
Colon cancer tends to progress slowly, making it highly preventable and treatable if caught early. Benign tumors can be removed easily during a colonoscopy and are not life threatening.
Why Dr. Prokupek?
As an award-winning Board Certified Internist and Gastroenterologist, Dale Prokupek MD will perform your colonoscopy with over 14 years of experience treating the most complex cases. He understands the need for thorough evaluation, aggressive treatment and close follow up. His state of the art facility has the latest equipment to most accurately diagnose and destroy any pre-cancerous polyps to, quite literally, save your life.
Dale Prokupek MD has received favorable reviews from patients and has been awarded the Patient’s Choice Award. He is also an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. In addition to seeing patients at his private practice in Beverly Hills, Dr. Prokupek also sees patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Who should be screened?
Both men and women should undergo testing beginning at the age of 50. However, people with a high risk of colon cancer should speak to Dr. Prokupek regarding a screening at an earlier age.
- Family History (about 30% of those diagnosed with colorectal cancer have relatives with the disease)
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Physical inactivity and a history of colorectal polyps
- Growths inside the colon or rectum that can sometimes become cancerous.
- In addition, Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) have been found to have a higher rate of colon cancer.
There are a few screening methods for colon cancer performed by Dr. Prokupek.
Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)
The FOBT screening involves gathering a small amount of stool at home so that it can be chemically tested for the presence of blood. In many cases, blood in the stool may be the first, or only, warning sign of colorectal cancer as precancerous growths are known to bleed. Because other conditions may be responsible for blood in the stool, however, a colonoscopy is required after a positive FOBT to diagnose the cause of rectal bleeding.
This diagnostic method involves inserting a long, flexible, lighted tube into the rectum and slowly guiding it into the colon. Images are transmitted to a computer, and the physician looks for abnormal growths. If any are found, the physician can surgically remove them for testing (called a biopsy).
Sigmoidoscopy is similar to colonoscopy, except that it only examines the rectum and lower third of the colon, called the sigmoid. Thus, the test is shorter, around 10-20 minutes long, and more limited. As with a colonoscopy, any abnormal growths that are discovered can be biopsied and sent for testing to determine if they’re cancerous.