The colon plays an important role in how we use the food we eat to fuel our bodies. Also known as the large bowel or large intestine, its main function is to process the liquid waste it receives each day into a manageable amount of solid stool, ready for elimination.
A healthy colon will rid your body of the leftovers it no longer needs, although there’s a lot of variation in the amount of stool a healthy person passes. Your stool is filled with bacteria, so it is important to pass this out of your body. If your colon isn’t working the way it should, you could experience bloating, gas, and pain.
There are a number of conditions that can cause the colon to work improperly, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticular disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and colorectal cancer. Treatment for these conditions might include diet and lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery.
Colorectal cancer is one of the more serious colon diseases. It’s the second leading cause of death from cancer for men and the third leading cause of death from cancer for women, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. It’s estimated that 1 in 34 men, and 1 in 40 women, will die from colorectal cancer in their lifetime.
There are a number of ways to help keep your colon working properly. You could start by examining your diet and following the recommendations below:
There are also a number of lifestyle changes you can make that help with colon health:
In addition to diet and lifestyle factors, it’s important to be aware of any genetic factors that can increase your risk. For example, the risk of colorectal cancer increases with age and men are also more likely than women to develop it. A family history of certain conditions can also increase your risk.
Please note, that a risk factor is something that increases the risk of developing cancer, but most cancers are the result of many risk factors. Cancer can also develop in people without risk factors.
In Alberta, colorectal cancer screening guidelines recommend the following types of screening:
To determine what type, or if, screening is appropriate for you, you will need to discuss with your doctor your medical and family history, risk factors, and if there are symptoms, how long symptoms have been present and how they affect daily activities. Your doctor would then provide you with a requisition for a specific procedure, if recommended.
Mayfair Diagnostics offers community-based private CT services as a complement to the public health care system, but whether public or private these exams must be requested by a health care practitioner. If a private CT virtual colonoscopy is indicated as a best next course of action, a requisition will be provided and the appointment can be booked.
Mayfair Diagnostics is owned and operated by over 50 radiologists who are sub-specialty trained, which guarantees an expert opinion of your imaging. Mayfair Diagnostics offers CT imaging at our Mayfair Place location. For more information, please visit our services page.
The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (2020) “The Colon: What it is, What it Does and Why it is Important.” www.fascrs.org. Accessed August 11, 2022.
Cleveland Clinic (2019) “Digestive Tract: Rectal and Colon Diseases and Conditions.” www.my.clevelandclinic.org. Accessed August 11, 2022.
Harvard Medical School (2013) “Rethinking fiber and hydration can lead to better colon health.” www.health.harvard.edu. Accessed August 11, 2022.
Toward Optimized Practice Working Group for Colorectal Cancer Screening. (2013) “Colorectal cancer screening: clinical practice guideline.” www.topalbertadoctors.org. Accessed August 11, 2022.