COLON CANCER SCREENING

The old saying that "Timing is everything!" is true in the diagnosis of colon cancer. When found early, colon cancer is 90% curable. There are three keys to fighting colon cancer: education, prevention, and screening.

EDUCATION

Polyps are small growths in the lining of the colon. Left unattended, these polyps can become colon cancers. Colon cancer, when found early, is over 90% curable. The risk factors for developing colon cancer include:

  • Risk doubles after the age of 50.
  • Family history of polyps and colorectal cancers.
  • Having inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease.
  • High fat/low fiber diet.
  • Being overweight.
  • Heavy alcohol drinking and smoking.

PREVENTION

While there is no foolproof method of prevention, taking the steps below has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer:

  1. Staying active: Research has shown that increased physical activity can significantly lower your risk of colon cancer development.
  2. Taking an Aspirin, daily: There is evidence that aspirin and some selected arthritis medications (NSAIDS) can prevent the development of the polyp itself. Some newer NSAIDS (Celebrex or Vioxx) may have additional protective benefits. You should be aware that aspirin could irritate the GI tract (ulcers) so if you are developing GI distress, please call our office for recommendations. 
  3. Taking 1 mg of folate, daily: Folate may lessen the instability that colon cells have as they mutate to cancerous growths 
  4. Eat low fat, high fiber diet, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Broccoli, in particular, contains an anti-oxidant substance called sulforaphane that may be protective against colon cancer. Limiting fat may have the greatest impact. 
  5. Limit ingestion of beer.
  6. Stop smoking.
  7. Take calcium daily.
  8. Take selenium daily.
  9. If you have been diagnosed with colitis, improved control of your colitis may lower your risk of colon cancer: Associates in Digestive Health believes that each patient should individualize the risk for side effects from these potentially beneficial measures. Ask to speak with our staff about these prevention measures.

SCREENING

A screening colonoscopy allows your Physician to view the lining of the colon with a specially mounted camera. If a polyp is discovered, it will be removed during your procedure and sent to the lab for pathology. 

Many people procrastinate with scheduling their colonoscopy out of fear of the preparation for the procedure. There have been significant changes and improvements in the quality of the preps.  You should also be aware that the better the prep, the better the screening. Follow all the directions provided to you and make sure you complete the process.

Who should schedule a colonoscopy?

  • Anyone 50 and over.
  • African Americans 45 and over.
  • Anyone with a family history of colorectal cancers should contact our office to determine the appropriate age to begin screening. 
  • Anyone with a personal history of colon cancer should follow your doctor's recommendations for repeat screening.