Although colon cancer is a preventable and even highly curable disease, it remains the second source of cancer deaths in the U.S. according to gastroenterologists Dr. Felice Schnoll-Sussman and Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl. Why? Not nearly enough people are getting screened, and experts want to get the word out that with screening cancer of the colon, a disease often without symptoms, can be detected early and even prevented from developing at all. Amazingly one in every three American is NOT getting screened for colorectal cancers, even though the screening tests are available everywhere.
Colon cancer is defined by your doctor as a malignant tumor that grows from the inside wall of the colon, also known as the large intestine, the long coiled tube that takes water from food after it’s been digested. Rectal cancer is a cancerous tumor that forms in the rectum, which is the medical term used for the last 6 inches of the large intestine where stool is stored before leaving the body. These two cancers share lots of risk factors, symptoms and the type of screening that’s done to detect them. It’s the treatment plans that are typically different. Colorectal cancer is a term that covers both colon and rectal cancers.
Here are five facts to think about before you put off a colorectal cancer screening…
1. Screening for colorectal cancer can save your life, finding a cancer very early on or spotting polyps before they get a chance to be cancer. Screening should start at 50 for both men and women. In years to come there may be a new test to detect colorectal cancer involving a breath sample, a method just presented in the December 2012 British Journal of Surgery.
2. Have screenings when you are feeling well because early colorectal cancers don’t have symptoms and you feel just fine. Screening before symptoms is the key, by the time you’re having symptoms the cancer is no longer in its early, most treatable stages.
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Saves Lives By Screening For Colorectal Cancer Continued…
3. Know the risks for colorectal cancer and talk with your doctor about getting screened earlier than 50 years if you have reason to do so. Your risk can go up if you have inflammatory bowel disease, a personal history of colon cancer or polyps, a family history of colon cancer or polyps or conditions such as familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome that can cause colon cancer.
4. Live healthy – stop smoking, get moving and start eating better (avoid red and processed meats, eat lots of fiber) to bring down your risk of being diagnosed with this type of cancer. Exercise especially is linked with lower rates of colon and breast cancers according to research in the May 2012 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
5. This type of cancer doesn’t discriminate; one in every 20 is diagnosed with colorectal cancer sometime in their life. This disease affects both men and women equally.
In this year alone, an estimated 102,480 cases of colon cancer, another 40,340 cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed. You can keep yourself from being one of them by making the call to schedule that screening, and making lifestyle changes that reduce your risk of disease.
To your good health,