March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, so we’re taking this opportunity to answer some common questions from our patients.
Starting at age 50, the American Cancer Society recommends that all men and most women undergo these procedures to detect cancer and potentially dangerous polyps:
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years*
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
- Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years*
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years*
But, if you have no family history of colon cancer, you may wonder if these are still things you need to do.
Having a family history of colon cancer does put you at a higher risk of the disease. Dr. Kaur of Digestive Disease Associates of Hinsdale recommends that these individuals should start regular screenings at age 40, instead of 50.
However, having a colon cancer-free family doesn’t exclude you from having any risk factors. Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third most common cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. There are other factors that might make you more prone to digestive diseases, including cancer.
One of the strongest risk factors for colon cancer is a lack of diet and exercise. According to the 2016 Cancer Progress Report from the American Association for Cancer Research, 33% of cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are related to obesity in both men and women. Inactivity plays a role in this correlation, but what you’re putting in your body may have a larger effect. Eating too much processed or red meat can cause colon cancer, as well as eating a lot of fried food. Heavily drinking or smoking is also linked to cancers, including colon cancer.
Even if you have a healthy diet and exercise regularly, there are other conditions that can put you at a higher risk of colon cancer, including Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD. Signs of IBD could be severe diarrhea, cramping, fatigue, and bloody stool. Additionally, external factors such as race or ethnicity have also been linked to colon cancer.
A colonoscopy is the only method that can locate polyps (small benign or pre-cancerous tumors) which can then be removed during the procedure. Finding existing colon cancer quickly and removing dangerous polyps can result in 100% recovery.
Getting screened can save your life. If you’re over the age of 50, or if you are 40 with a family history of colon cancer, schedule your colonoscopy with one of our board certified gastroenterologists, Dr. Carl Calandra, or D. Suman Kaur.
Call Digestive Disease Associates in Hinsdale, IL at 630-325-4255.
Note: This information shouldn’t take the place of a physician’s care. Please see your physician or one of the Digestive Disease Associate physicians with any questions or concerns.