Colon cancer is a common, deadly cancer. Approximately 142,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the United States and an estimated 50,000 people are expected to die of colon cancer in 2018. It is the third most common cancer of men and women in the United Sates and the third most common cause of cancer deaths in the US. 1in 20 people in the US will develop Colon Cancer. These are startling facts, however, colon cancer is definitely preventable through screening and there are over one million cancer survivors today in this country.
There are several ways you can screen for colon cancer. These include colonoscopy, virtual colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, fecal blood testing,
Colon cancer starts in the colon as a polyp, which is a pimple – like growth. It takes several years for most polyps to grow into a cancer. Most polyps do not cause symptoms, thus a proactive approach to removing polyps is needed to prevent a colon cancer. Removing a polyp that is determined to become cancerous will prevent the cancer. Therefore, in theory, all colon cancers are preventable with proper screening.
or a cologuard test. The best is the colonoscopy which allows the gastroenterologist to find and remove a polyp.
Most individuals should get screened at age 50. The African American population should begin screening at age 45. People with a first degree relative with colon cancer should begin screening at age 40.
Often, there are no symptoms when you have colon cancer. Symptoms such as anemia, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain and changes in bowel habit can occur but often the cancer is advanced at this point. If caught in the earliest stages, the five year survival rates are about 95%, strengthening the need to get screened.
March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and I would like everyone who has not been screened to pursue this important aspect of preventive health maintenance. If you have had a screening examination, tell a friend to do the same. When it comes to colon cancer screening, the life you save may be your own!