Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, but it is also highly preventable. Knowing your risk for colon cancer and knowing when to screen for colon cancer can help you stay ahead of the disease.
Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death for men and for women in the United States. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women combined.
Colon cancer is also one of the most preventable types of cancer. About 60% of deaths caused by colon cancer can be prevented. Most of these deaths occurred because people did not begin colon cancer screening on time.Who Should Screen for Colon Cancer? Click To Tweet
Early detection is key
The chances for survival are significantly higher when colon cancer is detected before it causes symptoms.
Cancer is easiest to treat in its earliest stages. The later a cancer is detected, the more difficult it is to treat, and the greater the risk of death.
This means that you should not wait until you have problems or symptoms.
Signs of colon cancer, such as blood in the stool, mean that the disease could be in advanced stages, and the risk of death is significantly higher.
A colonoscopy detects colorectal cancers at a higher rate than other screening options, and it can even prevent colorectal cancers. A colonoscopy finds precancerous polyps, which can be removed before they turn into cancer.
When should you screen for colon cancer?
The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women at an average risk for developing colon cancer should have a screening colonoscopy at age 45 and have additional screening colonoscopies at 10-year intervals after the initial screening.
Knowing your risk for colon cancer allows you to start screening for the disease on time. Not everyone has the same risk for the disease, and understanding your risk can help you stay ahead of the disease.
Those at an increased risk for colon cancer may need to start cancer screening sooner, and they may need to screen for colorectal cancers more often:
- African American men and women are at an increased risk for colon cancer.
- Having inflammatory bowel disease increases your risk for colon cancer.
- Having a family history of colon cancer or polyps increases your personal risk for developing colon cancer.
- Lifestyle factors — such as smoking, unhealthy diet, obesity, physical inactivity, and heavy alcohol use — may increase your risk for colon cancer.
- A personal history of colon cancer or polyps increases colon cancer risk.
Those with multiple risk factors are at an even higher risk for developing the disease. Talk to your doctor if you are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer.
Start the conversation
Most colon cancers are diagnosed in people over the age of 50. However, the number of people between the ages of 20 to 49 who are being diagnosed with colorectal cancers is increasing.
This means you should talk to your doctor about your personal risk for the disease, and establish a screening plan that reflects your needs.
Talk to your primary care physician about colon cancer and discuss what screening options are right for you. Patients in Northwest Arkansas can also request a colonoscopy with the gastroenterologists at MANA Fayetteville Diagnostic Clinic, a referral is not required.