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Colon Cancer Screening
By JP Richardson

So why is colon cancer screening so important? Since the colon, or large intestine or bowel, includes the final stage of the digestive tract, it stores food from the small intestine that is not digestible. This forms toxins on the colon's walls that can lead to problems, such as constipation. The toxins can hold parasites that can cause diseases to form in the body.

Colon cancer is a malignant tumor that forms from the large intestine's inner wall. The tumor attacks tissue that is in close proximity, and spread to other parts of the body. Polyps are benign tumors, which means they do not contain cancer. They do not threaten life and can easily be removed. They can become cancerous if not taken care of in a timely fashion.

One type of colon cancer screening method is fecal occult blood tests, which are chemical-based and performed on the stool samples to look for occult blood - amounts so small they can't be seen by the naked eye alone. The tests check three different specimens. If the test is positive, the patient will have a colonoscopy done to look for abnormalities.

If no abnormalities are found, the next step is an examination of the stomach and the small intestine to see if they are possible sources of the bleeding. There's also a screening called flexible sigmoidoscopy, which uses a fiber-optic viewing tube that uses light at its tip. This method looks at the rectum and the portion of the colon that is closest to the rectum. About half of the colorectal cancers and polyps are found in close proximity to the viewing area of the sigmoidoscope.

Modern technology allows for a virtual colonoscopy. This colon cancer screening procedure uses images of the colon that are like views collected at a colonoscopy. A scanner is used to produce two-dimensional images, instead of getting a direct view through the colonoscope.

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