March Is Colon Cancer Awareness Month
Time to Be Screened for Those Over 50
Colorectal cancer, cancer of the colon and rectum, which affects both men and women, is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Every year, more than 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 people die from it. If everyone who is 50 years old or older were screened regularly, more than half of deaths from this cancer could be avoided.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk?
You need to be screened to reduce your risk of getting colorectal cancer. The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age. More than 90% of cases occur in people who are 50 years old or older. Colorectal cancer screening saves lives, but many people are not being screened according to national guidelines.
If you’re 50 years old or older, getting a screening test for colorectal cancer could save your life. Colorectal cancer screening tests can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. In this way, colorectal cancer is prevented. Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early, when treatment often leads to a cure.
What Are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?
Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer do not always cause symptoms. You may have polyps or even cancer and have no idea. That is why having a screening test is so important. Symptoms for Colorectal Cancer may include bleeding in the stool, stomach pain, unexplained cramps, or unintentional weight fluctuation.
These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. If you’re having any of these symptoms, the only way to know what is causing them is to see your doctor.
What Are the Screening Tests for Colorectal Cancer?
Several tests are available to screen for colorectal cancer. Some are used by themselves while others are used in combination. Talk should with your doctor about which test or tests are best for you.
The GOLD STANDARD is colonoscopy. The procedure is safe and well tolerated. The preparation is easier to drink than ever before. After your colonoscopy your gastroenterologist will discuss when the test should be repeated. The timing of your surveillance or follow-up examination depends upon the results of your screening examination. Additionally, on a yearly basis your gastroenterologist or primary care doctor can perform immuno-fecal occult blood test (iFOBT) in addition to a physical examination also known as a stool test (every year).
The Colon Cancer Alliance
If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact us for an appointment or see your primary care physician. The Colon Cancer Alliance is the leading national patient advocacy organization. Learn more about at: http://www.ccalliance.org/about/index.html. You can call them at