March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month!
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths every year in the U.S., yet with regular screenings it is both preventable and highly-survivable. Colonoscopy screenings are recommended for most people beginning at age 50, then every 10 years. For more information about the 30-minute procedure, visit the College of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.
Need a colonoscopy?
The Basic Facts About Colorectal Cancer Screening*
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. Sometimes it is called colon cancer. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus.
It’s the Second Leading Cancer Killer
Colorectal Cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. If everyone aged 50 years or older had regular screening tests, at least 60 percent of deaths from this cancer could be avoided. So if you’re 50 or older, start getting screened now.
Who Gets Colorectal Cancer?
– Both men and women can get it.
– It is most often found in people 50 or older.
– The risk increases with age.
Are You at High Risk?
Your risk for colorectal cancer may be higher than average if:
– You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
– You have inflammatory bowel disease
– You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous poylposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer.
People at high risk for colorectal cancer may need earlier or more frequent tests than other people. Talk to your doctor about when to begin screening and how often you should be tested.
Screening Saves Lives
If you’re 50 or older, getting a colorectal cancer screening test could save your life. Here’s how:
– Colorectal cancer usually starts from polyps in the colon or rectum. A polyp is a growth that shouldn’t be there.
– Over time, some polyps can turn into cancer.
– Screening tests can find polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
– Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early. When it is found early, the chance of being cured is good.
Colorectal Cancer Can Start With No Symptoms
Precancerous polyps and early-stage colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. This means that someone could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important.
* Copy and images courtesy of www.cdc.gov/screenforlife
More useful links about screening colonoscopies
An informational video, Preparing for a Colonoscopy, from the American Gastroenterological Association.
An illustrated guide to preparing for colonoscopy from the American Gastroenterological Association.