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Colon Cancer Screening Specialist

Nicholas P. Martinez, MD -  - Gastroenterologist

Gastroenterology Clinic of San Antonio

Nicholas P. Martinez, MD

Gastroenterologist located in San Antonio, TX

Colon cancer is a painful disease that shortens the lives of thousands of Americans each year, but you have a much brighter outlook if you get regular colon cancer screenings. Nicholas Martinez, MD, is a board-certified gastroenterologist at Gastroenterology Clinic of San Antonio who offers colon cancer screenings using state-of-the-art diagnostic technology. If you’re overdue for a colon cancer screening, schedule an appointment with Dr. Martinez at his San Antonio office online or by phone today.

Colon Cancer Screening Q & A

Why is screening for colon cancer so important?

Colon cancer is the second most deadly cancer in the United States, causing the death of upwards of 55,000 people every year and severely affecting many thousands more. By getting screened for colon cancer, you have a far better prognosis as you can start treatment at the first sign of cancer developing in your colon.

Colon cancer starts as small lumps called polyps, which if left untreated may become malignant. With regular screenings, Dr. Martinez can detect and remove any polyps before they become malignant.

How does colon cancer develop?

Colon cancer develops from polyps, but having polyps doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer. It’s estimated that between 10-15% of people who have polyps go on to develop colon cancer, but there’s no way to predict which people will develop cancer in the future. Therefore it’s safer to remove any polyps as soon as they appear.

If they’re left to grow, polyps can increase in size over five to 10 years until they measure up to two inches in diameter. Once they near a half-inch in diameter, tiny cancer cells can start to grow within the polyp. These microscopic cancers are called adenocarcinomas, and once they start growing they can spread from your colon to other parts of your body.

Genetics is the primary risk factor for developing colon cancer, but the other causes aren’t certain. There is some evidence that certain lifestyle factors may increase your risk of developing colon cancer, such as:

  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Drinking heavily
  • Inadequate exercise
  • Not eating enough fiber
  • Eating a diet high in animal fat
  • Not eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables

Without knowing more about the causes of colon cancer, the best form of prevention is to see Dr. Martinez for a regular colon cancer screening test.

How often should I have colon cancer screenings?

If you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps, you may be at a higher risk of developing cancer yourself, so you should start having screening exams at age 40, or even earlier.

Dr. Martinez recommends you begin screening at age 50 if you have no family history of colon cancer. If your colon is clear, you should have another screening test every 10 years after that, until you reach age 80.

If your colon cancer screening identifies polyps in your colon, you should see Dr. Martinez for a colonoscopy every three to five years.

To arrange your colon cancer screening test, call Gastroenterology Clinic of San Antonio or schedule an appointment online today.