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March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Posted 2/26/2015 by UHBlog

March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that colon cancer is the second leading cancer-related cause of death, and often has no symptoms? Or that 90 percent of people diagnosed are 50 and older? The good news is that when it is detected early with regular screenings, colon cancer has a 90 percent survival rate.

Be proactive. There are several tests that can help diagnose colon cancer, but experts agree that a colonoscopy is the gold standard for early detection and prevention. During a colonoscopy, a doctor looks for polyps in the colon which, if found, can usually be removed during the procedure. Given that polyps can take many years to develop into cancer, removing them at an early stage decreases the likelihood of disease.

Modify your diet. Although you cannot totally eliminate the risk of getting colon cancer, certain lifestyle changes such as eating a high-fiber, low-fat, calcium-rich diet, and getting regular exercise have been shown to reduce the incidence of polyps.

The value of lifestyle modification is evident in the case of Nancy, a 50-year-old woman with no family history of colon cancer. Irritable bowel issues led to her first colonoscopy when she was in her mid-30s, at which time several polyps were found and removed. Subsequent colonoscopies continued to detect pre-malignant polyps. Moved to a yearly screening regimen by her doctor, Nancy was determined to take control of her health. She eliminated processed foods from her diet and increased her intake of healthy, high-fiber foods. One year later, her colonoscopy revealed minimal changes and she was returned to a three-year schedule.

Don’t delay. Talk to your physician about your risk factors for colon cancer and schedule your colonoscopy today. If you don’t have a primary care physician, you can find one online here, or by calling 1-866-UH4-CARE.

Learn about colorectal cancer risks, screenings and survivor stories.

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