Among men and women, colon cancer is the second most common organ cancer behind lung cancer. While the risks vary based on age and family history, monitoring Gastrointestinal (GI) health is universally important.

Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Irving was recently ranked as a top 10 hospital in Dallas-Fort Worth and in the top 25 in Texas by U.S. News & World Report. BSW Irving earned the ranking by being a high-performing medical center in eight specific categories of care, one of which is colon cancer surgery.

From specialty surgical care to a wide range of healthcare providers, residents in Lewisville, Coppell and the surrounding areas can find the care they need at BSW Irving.

Dr. Randall Crim, a Colorectal Surgeon on the medical staff at BSW Irving, shared some of his insight about the causes, treatments and FAQs regarding colonoscopies and colon cancer.

How common is colon cancer?

Dr. Crim
: Colon cancer is common, and that's why we screen for it just like individuals get screened for breast cancer or prostate cancer. As healthcare specialists, we want to identify the types of cancer that are common, then perform tests that can help you identify them at an early stage. This is particularly important with colon cancer. By identifying it early, surgeons can remove polyps before they turn into cancer.

When should individuals get screened for colon cancer?

Dr. Crim: There has been an increase in colon cancer in young people, and the recommendation is to start screening at age 45 if you have no other risk factors. If you do have risk factors, such as a family history of precancerous polyps called adenomas, or a family history of colon cancer, then the recommendation is to start at age 40. Some groups of people have different recommendations. For example, the recommendation for African American individuals is to start screening at age 40 because studies show a higher incidence of cancer and polyps at a younger age.

What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

Dr. Crim: There are no early signs of colon cancer—that’s why it’s important to get screened. If people have bleeding with their bowel function, a change in their bowel function, abdominal pain or unexplained weight loss, those are the things that should encourage them to get to their doctor.

However, these are some of the later signs of colon cancer. That's why we encourage people to get screened before they have symptoms. If patients are experiencing symptoms, they should contact their doctor right away.

How do individuals know if they have a family history of cancer?

Dr. Crim: It would be a matter of asking—a lot of people don't talk about this, because who wants to talk about their colon? That’s not probably the standard Thanksgiving conversation. But it really is a matter of asking, ‘Mom or Dad, have you had a colonoscopy and if so, what was found?’ Same with siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts. It’s about finding the immediate sort of first degree and second degree relatives.

In addition, there are genetic abnormalities that can put individuals at a higher risk, and that’s why it's good to ask. For those who have genetic abnormalities or a strong family history, sometimes you even start screening earlier. The two most common genetic abnormalities that can lead to colon cancer are Lynch syndrome and familial polyposis.

How treatable is colon cancer?

Dr. Crim: Colon cancer is very treatable in the early stages. However, it’s deadly in the late stages. That's why we encourage people to get checked early. If you remember the actor Chadwick Boseman, he was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer before his 40th birthday. He died of colon cancer in 2020. If you catch it late, it can be deadly, but if you catch it early, it's very curable.

What does colon cancer treatment look like?

Dr. Crim: Sometimes it can be just removal of a cancerous or precancerous polyp via colonoscopy. In many cases, we actually remove part of the colon through a procedure called a colon resection. Depending on how far the cancer has advanced and spread, chemotherapy and radiation chemotherapy can sometimes be part of the treatment plan.

What lifestyle changes can individuals make to reduce their risk of colon cancer?

Dr. Crim: There is no magic pill we can give to patients, however, we think these four things are important:
  • Don't smoke.
  • Watch your diet—eat a high fiber, low fat diet.
  • Watch your weight.
  • Exercise.
Where to find health care

Dr. Crim: Individuals should ​pay attention to their bodies and get routine screenings. For those who don’t have a primary care physician, finding one is a great place to start. Visit to find a physician and get a colonoscopy done. Additionally, BSW has a free app called MyBSW that can help patients schedule appointments and even access a virtual care visit for certain ailments.

Visit the link for more information about the Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Irving location. Learn more about the hospital’s colorectal services here.

Looking for a location near you? The BSW healthcare system includes 51 hospitals, more than 800 patient care sites and more than 7,300 active physicians. Find care near you.

Physicians provide clinical services as members of the medical staff at one of Baylor Scott & White Health’s subsidiary, community or affiliated medical centers and do not provide clinical services as employees or agents of Baylor Scott & White Health or those medical centers.

The above story was produced by Summer El-Shahawy with Community Impact's Storytelling team with information solely provided by the local business as part of their "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.