Have you ever made this New Year’s resolution: “This year, I’m going to get screened for colon cancer!” If so, good for you! If not, and if you’re 50 or older, make 2013 be the year you get it done.
Colorectal (colon) cancer is the second leading killer, among forms of cancer, in the United States. It’s estimated that 60 percent of colon cancer cases could have been prevented if the individual with colon cancer would have had a colonoscopy early enough.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Screening for colorectal cancer helps prevent this disease. Screening can find precancerous polyps (abnormal growths), so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening also finds colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.”
Although the number of people being screened is increasing, there is still an estimated 22 million people who are not up-to-date.
More than 90 percent of people with colon cancer are over the age of 50, but there are other risk factors, in addition to age. These include obesity, alcohol and tobacco use and a diet low in fruits, vegetables and fiber. If you have a family history of colon cancer, you should ask your physician if you should be screened prior to age 50.
Often, the presence of polyps or early-stage colon cancer doesn’t present symptoms. However, in some cases, severe cramping, stomach pain, weight loss or the presence of blood in bowel movements may occur. Talk to your physician if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
As you think about your New Year’s resolutions, I hope you’ll add “colonoscopy” to your list. It could save your life!
By Kris Ponto, MSN, RN-BC, RAC-CT
Clinical Nurse Consultant