It’s a Fact
Every ten minutes someone dies of Colon Cancer.
March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. To draw attention to this deadly disease and the importance of getting screened, join the national effort to dress in blue on Friday, March 2.
Nearly 60,000 people die from Colorectal Cancer each year, making it the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Most of these cases occur in people over the age of 50, which is why the American Cancer Society recommends that most men and women begin regular screening at age 50.
Anyone with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, polyps in the colon or rectum or inflammatory bowel disease is at a higher risk for and may need to be examined sooner and more often.
If you are age 50 or older or if you’re at higher risk because of your personal or family history, talk to your doctor today about colorectal screening.
Prevent and Detect
The physicians of the Digestive Disease Center of the Hudson Valley specialize in the early detection and prevention of Colorectal Cancer.
The disease can be prevented or detected early by having a colonoscopy at age 50–or before the age of 50 if you are at a higher risk.
When Colorectal Cancer is detected early, the chances of successful treatment are greatest. Most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp—a growth of tissue in the lining of the rectum or colon–that later becomes cancerous. If polyps are found early, they can be removed before cancer develops. This is what makes Colorectal Cancer a preventable disease.
If a polyp or abnormality is discovered during a colonoscopy, a small tissue sample is removed through the colonoscope for examination. If cancer is found, surgery–sometimes combined with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy– is the most effective method of treatment.
Beginning at Age 50, the following tests are recommended for those of average risk, who do not have any symptoms:
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
- Fecal occult blood test yearly
- Colonoscopy every five years
- Double contrast barium enema every five years
People at increased or high-risk for Colorectal Cancer should talk with their doctor about a personalized screening schedule.
If you have symptoms, such as a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding or stomach cramps that don’t go away, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Those with a higher risk for colon or rectum cancer (those who have had colorectal cancer or polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis, or those who have blood relatives with colorectal cancer or polyp history) may need to have a colonoscopy at a younger age.
Remember– a colonoscopy is your best insurance for preventing or detecting Colorectal Cancer early while it can still be treated successfully.
Early detection of small cancers also reduces the likelihood of major surgery. Today, permanent colostomies are rare in cases of colon cancer and are required for only a small percentage of patients with rectal cancer.
Eating a diet that is low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables may also lower the risk of colorectal cancer.
Medicare and many private insurance plans pay for regular colorectal screening for all eligible patients.