How To Stop Colon Cancer in Its Tracks

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colorectal cancer

Many people tell themselves, “What I don’t know won’t hurt me.” However, when it comes to colon cancer, this can be a very dangerous way to think.

Colon cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer and yet, the American Cancer Society continues to list it as the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, killing more than 50,000 people each year. Medical professionals agree that the best way to change this statistic is to increase the number of eligible patients who get screened.

The gold standard screening for colon cancer is the colonoscopy. This procedure enables the doctor (usually a gastroenterologist) to evaluate the lining of the colon (large bowel). This is accomplished by inserting a flexible tube equipped with a tiny camera into the anus, and then advancing it slowly throughout the colon. The inside of the colon can then be viewed on a TV monitor and examined for polyps and other abnormalities. Throughout the procedure, the patient is sedated so that they remain comfortable and unaware.

Polyps are growths that can be found in the colon. Although most are benign, certain types of polyps may turn cancerous over time. If polyps are found during a colonoscopy, they can almost always be removed during the procedure. The strategy is simple – if the polyp is removed, it can’t develop into cancer.

“Colonoscopy is usually very well-tolerated and is considered a low risk procedure for otherwise healthy patients. In addition, preparing for the procedure is much easier now than in the past. After the procedure, most patients say that it wasn’t as bad as they expected and many people say that they don’t remember anything at all,” says UH gastroenterologist Kristian Wall, MD.

“Colonoscopy is one of the few forms of cancer screening that can actually prevent cancer. Despite that, one in three adults are not getting the recommended screening and that is a number that needs to change,” Dr. Wall says.

Keep Your Survival Odds High

The excuses to avoid colon cancer screening are many: It’s too time-consuming; I can’t eat anything the day before; I’m embarrassed; I don’t have a family history so I’m not at risk; and on and on and on.

There is no good excuse. Consider this - when colon cancer is caught at an early stage, the survival rate is greater than 90 percent. Wait too long and the odds can plummet.

Talk to your doctor today about your risk factors such as diet, age, family history, and, if advised to do so, schedule a colonoscopy without delay. Your life could depend on it.

Related links

University Hospitals offers convenient access to colonoscopy services at locations throughout Northeast Ohio offering highly trained physicians and state-of-the-art treatment options. Learn more about colonoscopy at University Hospitals.

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