Knowing These (3) Facts about Colon Cancer Could Save Your Life
FACT 1. Colon cancer is the 2nd LEADING CAUSE OF CANCER DEATH in the United States today, resulting in 50,000 UNNECESSARY LOST LIVES EVERY YEAR. But few people know that colon cancer is also THE MOST PREVENTABLE of all cancers. The reason colon cancer is SO PREVENTABLE is because colon cancer always starts as a benign polyp (a small growth) in the lining of the colon which can be removed easily and painlessly during a 20 minute procedure known as a COLONOSCOPY. A screening colonoscopy allows you to literally ‘nip the cancer in the bud’ by removing the benign polyp at the time of the colonoscopy. Screening colonoscopies are widely available in most Gastroenterology offices and are extremely safe and painless. The biggest complaint we hear about colonoscopy is about the preparation (laxatives) required to clean the colon out, not the colonoscopy itself. But this is a limited problem you have to deal with for only about half a day.
FACT 2. The second most important fact to remember about colon cancer, is that COLON CANCER PRODUCES ALMOST NO SYMPTOMS. Most people who wind up with colon cancer have no bleeding, pain or change in bowel habits or family history. They do not necessarily eat a bad diet or have any other so-called ‘risk factors’ for colon cancer. In other words, IT’S JUST ORDINARY PEOPLE LIKE YOU and ME WITH NO SYMPTOMS AND WITH NO RISK FACTORS. Therefore, you HAVE TO HAVE YOUR COLONOSCOPY DONE WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE HAVING ANY SYMPTOMS, even IF DO NOT HAVE A FAMILY HISTORY, AND SO FORTH. Sometimes it is difficult to convince my patients that they need a screening colonoscopy when they do not have any symptoms, family history and so on. You know, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That is bad advice for colon cancer screening. I tell them, “think it like an oil change. You can’t wait until you hear noise coming from your engine to get your oil changed. The way you protect your investment (in this case your car) is to get that oil changed whether you think you need it or not. Otherwise, you could wind up spending thousands of dollars on a new engine rather than just paying the $30 or so every few months. Most people would not risk their car engine and save the $30. Why would you risk your life for a 20 minute painless procedure?
FINALLY, scientific evidence has now shown that while colon cancer has traditionally been a problem for the 50-70 age group, colon cancer rates in younger patients (even in their 30s and 40s) is now increasing by 2-3% per year. This means that more younger people are at risk for colon cancer than previously thought, making the need for earlier screening even more important. The US Preventative Service Task Force (USPSTF) has now lowered the recommended age of screening to 45, even in people without family history or other risk factors. If you do have any of these risk factors, like a family history, your screening age may be 40 or younger.
IN CONCLUSION, we highly recommend that you FOLLOW THE SCIENCE. Colon cancer is COMMON and PREVENTABLE. March 2022 is COLON CANCER AWARENESS MONTH. You may have an opportunity that could save your life and undoubtedly will save many lives. As we say, “DON’T SIT ON COLON CANCER.” As the Nike commercial says, call your local GI expert, and “JUST DO IT!”
PS. Center for Health and Cancer Prevention AKA Virginia Colonoscopy specializes exclusively in colon cancer prevention and screening colonoscopy. Because we are a more specialized, and more individualized practice, we are able to schedule most elective screening colonoscopies within 2 weeks, or even sooner if you are wanting to get your procedure done instead of waiting. Give us a call at 757-412-4919 and check out the videos of Dr. Berger and Dr. Jaklic on our website Virginiacolonoscopy.com.