Monday, Mar 7, 2016
As human beings, we like to celebrate things like birthdays, anniversaries, important achievements and major milestones. But have you ever considered celebrating something that works hard to help keep you healthy and free of toxins? We’re talking about your colon. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and a great time to highlight and celebrate the lifesaving benefits of regular screenings and early detection.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and women. However, it is one of the easiest cancers to detect and is often treatable if discovered in its early stages.
Getting screened is the best way to celebrate your colon. There are several screening methods for detecting colorectal cancer, including a colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy is a routine procedure in which a thin, flexible tube – called a colonoscope – is used for viewing the entire length and inner lining of the large intestine, which consists of the colon and rectum.
This method of screening detects colon polyps, or abnormal growths of tissue, which can turn cancerous over time. Colonoscopies also help identify ulcers, tumors, areas of bleeding or inflammation or other intestinal problems.
More than 90 percent of colon and rectal cancers occur in people over the age of 50, so regular screenings are vital for this age group. If you are younger than 50, screenings may be appropriate if:
- You have a family history of colon cancer
- You have been previously diagnosed with the disease
- You have experienced inflammatory bowel disease or polyps.
In addition to age and family and medical history, several other factors may increase your risk of developing colon cancer. These include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Not exercising regularly
- Smoking or otherwise using tobacco
- Drinking alcohol
- Eating copious amounts of processed foods or red meat
In the last decade, more and more people have been screened for colon cancer, which has led to a decline in the rate at which individuals over 50 years old are being diagnosed with the disease. Despite this encouraging trend, the American Cancer Society reports only about 59 percent of people over the age of 50 have been screened. Are you among this responsible group who believe in celebrating their colons? If not, you can join the party.
Ask your primary care physician about your risk factors and when you should be screened. For more information, call Harbin Clinic Gastroenterology at 706.238.8010 or visit online at www.harbinclinic.com/digestive-health.