Though the fight against colon cancer happens all year long, doctors want to raise awareness about the disease during Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March.
Colon cancer most often begins in polyps, or noncancerous growths, that develop on the lining of the colon and rectum. Research has shown that up to 90 percent of colon and rectal cancers can be prevented by simply finding and removing polyps before they become cancerous.
There are often no symptoms with colorectal cancer until quite late. Regular screenings, before any symptoms appear, are key in preventing the disease, such as a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is an examination of the intestines using a camera or a fiber optic camera on a flexible tube. This examination allows for a visual diagnosis of any ulcerations or polyps, as well as grants the physician the opportunity for biopsy or removal of any suspected colorectal cancer.
A colonoscopy is recommended for men and women beginning at age 50, and every 10 years afterward. Those who are at increased risk, more frequent screening intervals may be recommended. Polyps, when found early and removed, can prevent colon cancer from developing. Increased risk factors include having a family history of benign colorectal polyps, colorectal cancer, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, and uterine, ovarian or breast cancer.
Other risks are smoking, sedentary lifestyle and obesity. Besides regular screening tests, a healthy lifestyle is the most important factor to help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Eating right and exercise are the most common suggestions for better colon health.
For patients with concerns, there are several warning signs to colorectal cancer and other colorectal health concerns. If you have any of the following symptoms, see your doctor immediately:
Regular screenings are the best method of preventing and treating colon and rectal cancers The Johnson Memorial Surgical Specialists perform regular colonoscopy screenings at an outpatient service.
If you believe you need to have a colon cancer screening, you can make an appointment for Colonoscopy Services at the Johnson Memorial Surgery Center by contacting the Johnson Memorial Surgical Specialists at 317.736.7603.