According to the latest statistics compiled by the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. It is the second leading cause of cancer death.
Risk factors for the disease include a lack of physical activity, obesity, smoking, and the heavy consumption of alcohol. A diet that is high in red meat and processed meat can play a substantial role in the development of colorectal cancer. Doctors recommend that you adopt a diet high in fruit, vegetable and whole grain content to lower these risks. A personal or family history of the disease and advanced age are also risk factors.
Colon cancer develops from an abnormal growth, otherwise known as a polyp, on the inside of the colon. Early detection techniques can allow a doctor to remove these polyps before they become cancerous. That’s why colonoscopy is so important.
“Screening usually starts at age 50,” says Watson Clinic gastroenterologist Dr. Louis Saco. “People at higher risk, including those with a family history of colon cancer, should start at age 40 or 10 years earlier than the age at which their parent or sibling was diagnosed with colon cancer. Due to enhanced risk, African Americans should start colonoscopy screening at age 45.”
During a colonoscopy procedure, the patient is sedated so they can rest comfortably during the exam. A flexible tube with a light on the end of it is inserted into the colon and travels its entire length. The doctor then observes the procedure on a high-definition monitor screen. Once any polyps are identified and removed by delicate instruments attached to the end of the tube, the colon cancer risk is eradicated.
Colonoscopy screening is a simple process that’s not nearly as unpleasant as many chose to believe. But most importantly, it’s THE essential component to ensuring you stay free of this potentially life-threatening disease. “If we get the polyp, you’ll get the cure,” says Dr. Saco.
For more information and to schedule your colonoscopy, call Watson Clinic’s gastroenterology department at 863-680-7490.