March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month and an excellent opportunity to become more aware of how to prevent and treat the disease by scheduling a colonoscopy.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., even though 70 percent of all cancer cases could be prevented with early detection. The lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is one in 20; however, a variety of risk factors can increase those odds.
Each year, more than 140,000 men and women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, but more than 1 million colorectal cancer survivors are living full lives thanks to early detection and improvements in prevention and treatment.
Unfortunately, for many others, the lack of a preventive screening allowed the cancer to advance, making more extensive treatments necessary.
Researchers have made great strides in determining ways to detect the early signs of cancer and have developed definitive guidelines to aid in its prevention.
Colon cancer, in particular, is a cancer found predominantly in men and women over the age of 50. With 90 percent of cases of colon cancer diagnosed after the age of 50, screening is vital for men and women in that age group.
In addition to age, anyone experiencing symptoms of colon cancer or with a family history of the disease should be screened. Thanks to changes in insurance coverage with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, screening colonoscopies are now fully covered by Medicare and by many insurance plans for people who are 50 or older.
A colonoscopy screening is a 30-minute, simple, and pain-free procedure that allows a doctor to check for polyps, abnormal growths in the colon that can become cancerous.
Treatment will begin immediately for any patient with a cancer diagnosis. Patients with no findings get peace of mind.
For most women in the United States, scheduling a mammogram is an important part of their preventive health routine. But many other screenings and preventive measures go unchecked because of a lack of information or understanding about their importance.
Unfortunately, many women never consider the need for a colonoscopy screening as a way to prevent colorectal cancer.
According to Dr. Karen Kormis, a board-certified gastroenterologist at the Camp Hill-based Pennsylvania Gastroenterology (PA GI), women often attribute early warning signs of colon cancer to gynecological problems and don’t seek appropriate treatment.
“Colorectal cancer is one cancer that is treatable and preventable for men and women,” Kormis said. “With early detection, the prognosis is excellent for any patient who is diagnosed with colon cancer.”
The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is the best guideline to follow when considering a colonoscopy screening. National Colon Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist for yourself or for someone you love.
Take a moment during National Colon Cancer Awareness Month to learn more about colon cancer symptoms, the preventive colonoscopy screening procedure, and how you can get screened. Look for detailed colonoscopy information sheets at www.PAGIconsultants.com or visit the American Cancer Society’s website, www.cancer.org.