As the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the U.S., colon cancer is something gastroenterologists commonly see. It is estimated that 1 in 20 people will be diagnosed with this cancer in their lifetime. While colon cancer can strike at any age, 90% of these cancers are found in people who are 50 and older.
The good news is that colon cancer is often preventable with the help of your doctor and regular screenings.
How Does Colon Cancer Form?
Colon cancer arises from pre-cancerous growths or polyps in the colon. Identifying and removing polyps early eliminates the chance that colon cancer will develop from those polyps.
Finding Polyps With A Colonoscopy
Polyps are discovered by your gastroenterologist with a screening test called a colonoscopy. Not only can a doctor see the polyps during this screening colonoscopy, but they can often be removed at the same time.
Don’t Put Off This Important Screening Test
It is recommend that patients at average risk have their first screening colonoscopy at age 50, and, if everything comes back normal during that first screening, every 10 years after that. Those with colon cancer risk factors, like family history or other gastrointestinal disorders, should speak with their doctor to determine the best time to have the procedure and any subsequent colonoscopies in the future.What Are The Risk Factors For Colon Cancer?
As doctors, we often see push-back from patients about getting their first colonoscopy due to the colonoscopy prep that must be done before the screening. The colonoscopy itself is painless and over relatively quickly, but some find the prep to be challenging or annoying. The important thing to remember is that this prep and screening test may save your life!
Colonoscopy Prevents Colon Cancer, Research Says
The American Cancer Society reports that in the last 10 years the rate at which colon cancer is diagnosed in the U.S. has dropped by 30% for those ages 50 and older. Researchers believe this big decrease is due to more people being screened. Our efforts at prevention and also early diagnosis of colon cancer are paying off with saved lives.
At the end of the day, it’s vital to understand that colon cancer is treatable, beatable, and preventable, but it starts with a colonoscopy.