Upon hearing this question, your answer likely falls into one of the following categories:
a) Yep! I’ve been screened and I’m not due again for another x-years.
b) Uh oh. I’ve been meaning to make that appointment for some time now.
c) Age 45 is years away. Don’t need to think about it at all.
If your answer is A, congratulations, you can help spread the word to the others, who need to keep reading.
If your answer is B, make the call today to schedule your colonoscopy. Colorectal cancer remains the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the United States, a sobering statistic when you consider that survival for early-stage colorectal cancer is about 90%. The gold standard of colorectal screening, colonoscopy, detects – and removes – early-stage cancers and overgrowths of tissue called polyps that can potentially become cancer. Removing the polyps effectively prevents future cancer.
Know Your Risk
Colon cancer is largely preventable, but you must have a screening test that will detect warning signs such as polyps, abnormal growths, precancerous lesions or early malignancies, long before you notice any symptoms.
If your answer is C, here’s your gut check: colorectal cancer is on the rise among people younger than 45. It’s not a matter of if you should be screened; it’s a matter of when, and that will depend on whether you have any risk factors associated with colorectal cancer. Talk to your physician about screening earlier than age 45 if you have any of the following factors:
- African American ethnicity
- Family history of colorectal cancer (Having a parent, sibling or child with colorectal cancer more than doubles your risk.)
- Personal history of colorectal polyps
- Certain genetic conditions, such as Lynch Syndrome, or Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), or Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
- Personal history of cancer, particularly of the ovary, uterus, breast or colon
- Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
Lifestyle factors - that you can change - are also associated with colorectal cancer. These include smoking, a lack of exercise, obesity and eating a diet that’s high in red meat and processed meats and fat and low in fruits, vegetables, calcium, folate and fiber.
Your answer is still C? At least now you’re thinking about it.