Colon Cancer Awareness
Colon Cancer - The Second Most Common Cause
of Cancer Death in the United States?
What is Colon Cancer?
Colon Cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States (trailing only lung cancer) and results in almost 60,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. In fact, for those who do not smoke, colon cancer poses a greater risk of causing death than any other malignancy.
More then 90% of colon cancer deaths
could be preventable with timely removal
of pre-cancerous polyps.
Who is at risk?
The simple answer is everyone. Recent studies show that 6% of the U.S. population (more than 1 in 16) will develop colon cancer, with both men and women being at equal risk. The risk of colon cancer increases with age, occurring most often in people over 50. This risk is even greater in those who have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps. Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease are also at increased risk.
The risk of colon cancer increases
with age - most often occurring in people 50 or older.
Can it be prevented? - Absolutely!
Colon cancers begin as polyps, which grow slowly over several years before developing into cancer. This provides a "window of opportunity" in which polyps can be removed before they become malignant or cancerous. Several studies have now proven that the removal of these polyps can decrease, or virtually eliminate, the chances of developing cancer in the future. Screening tests can also detect colon cancer early while the chances of cure are greater.
Who should be screened?
Everyone 50 or over.
Anyone age 40 or over that has had a parent or sibling with colon cancer or polyps.
Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease should discuss appropriate screening intervals with their physician.
What screening tests are available?
Several tests may be used to screen for colon cancer including:
Most authorities agree that the most complete and thorough screening method is colonoscopy, which has the unique advantage of being the only test which is both diagnostic and therapeutic. In other words, if polyps or tumors are found during the exam, they can be removed or biopsied at the same time.
What is a colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is a procedure in which your physician is able to examine the lining of the colon (large intestine) for abnormalities by inserting a flexible tube (about the size of your finger) into the rectum and through the entire colon. In most cases, the procedure is performed with some type of sedation in order to ensure patent comfort during the exam. If polyps are identified during the exam, they can usually be removed at the same time. Colonoscopy is the most effective procedure for finding polyps and is recommended every 10 years for those at average risk.
Getting screened could save your life.
Patient experience has shown that:
- Colon cancer usually starts from polyps in the colon or rectum.
- Over time, some polyps turn into cancer.
- Screening tests identify polyps which can then be removed before turning into cancer.
- When detected early, the chances of curing colon cancer are excellent.
Both men and women get colon cancer equally.
The good news?/strong>
Over 90% of colon cancer deaths can be prevented with appropriate screening and timely removal of pre-cancerous polyps. In fact, it is one of the few types of cancer than can actually be prevented, which makes it all the more important to consider your risk for the disease and take steps to be tested at the appropriate time.
More than 1 in 20 of the U.S. population will develop colon cancer.
Will colon cancer screening be covered by my insurance?
In Texas, the screening should be covered thanks to Bill SB1467, which mandated that insurance companies cover the cost of screening for patients of average risk over the age of 50 (higher risk patients were already covered). Medicare patients are also covered for screening exams.
What are the symptoms?
The most frequent answer is none. Colon cancer usually does not cause any symptoms until it has become quite advanced which is why screening tests are so important. By the time symptoms develop, treatment may be more difficult. You should notify your physician if you notice any of the following:
- Blood in the stool.
- A change in the pattern of bowel habits.
- Frequent abdominal pain, gas, or cramping.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- A feeling that the bowel doesn't empty completely.
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