Welcome to March and Fat Tuesday! While March brings all things fun such as Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day, it also brings Colon Cancer Awareness Month! Colon cancer does not discriminate and people of any age, any gender, and any fitness level can get colon cancer! The good news is that Colon Cancer Screening saves lives! This cancer is one of the few that can be prevented with proper screening! This is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US and your risk increases with age! According to a 2015 study by MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers, by 2030 researchers expect that rates of colon cancer will increase by 90 percent for people ages 20-34 and 27.7 percent for people ages 35-49.
Risk factors for colon cancer when you are young include: being overweight, lack of exercise, eating high processed foods, smoking, heavy alcohol use, and history of polyps and ulcerative colitis.
Symptoms of colon cancer include: blood in the stool, abdominal pain, using the restroom more frequently, diarrhea or constipation lasting more than a couple of days, unexplained weight loss.
You have so many choices for screening! Even better news is that the recommended age to start screening has been lowered to 45! Below I discuss two of the best screenings that we currently use
The first is a colonoscopy which continues to be the gold standard for screening. You will be given a drink to start at home to help clean out your bowels before the procedure. During the procedure you will be asleep and a physician will insert a camera into the rectum to identify any polyps. If polyps are present they are removed and sent off to be tested for cancer. If you do have polyps it is recommended that you repeat this screening every 5 years. If you have a normal colonoscopy and no other risk factors, you can repeat this screening every ten years.
Many people cringe at the thought of a colonoscopy so there are other options available. Another popular option is cologuard which is repeated every 3 years. With Cologuard, we order a box to be sent to your home. When you receive this box you will have instructions and a kit inside to help you collect your own stool sample from home. There is no prep or drink you have to consume which is nice! The cologuard box will then be picked up and taken to a lab to be analyzed. If this is negative, you repeat this screening every 3 years. If this is positive, this does nto mean you have colon cancer, but does mean you will need a diagnostic colonoscopy to remove any polyps and have them sent off to the lab.
Call us today to see if colon cancer screening is right for you!