Preventive screenings are key to early detection for colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Colon cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, and is most often found in people 50 to 75 years old who have a history of tobacco use, are overweight, drink alcohol in excess, are not physically active, eat a lot of red meat, or have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps. There is also a growing trend of colon cancer in individuals as young as age 30; symptoms should not be ignored due to a younger age. Symptoms that may develop include blood in the stool, a change in bowel movements, abdominal issues such as bloating and cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and fatigue.
If you are at least 50 years old or have experienced colorectal cancer symptoms, contact your doctor to determine a screening schedule that is right for you. Community organizations and some health plans offer free at-home screening tests. Learn more about the cancer screening benefits that are available to you. Be a step ahead of cancer and make sure you are getting your recommended screenings!
In many cases, preventive screenings can detect or prevent colon cancer by finding and removing polyps before they become cancerous. Preventive screening such as sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy should be performed every 5 to 10 years from age 50 to 75. There are also screenings that can be done more often, such as the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and fecal immunochemical test (FIT).
The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 101,000 new cases of colon cancer and 44,000 new cases of rectal cancer in 2019. Although it is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, it can be cured if caught early, when it is highly treatable.
John E. Aoki, M.D., CHCQM, FABQAURP
Chief Medical Officer
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