March is colon cancer awareness month. Listen to Dr. Galati's podcast here.
Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer—cancer of the colon or rectum—is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Colorectal cancer also is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States.
The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with advancing age. More than 90% of cases occur in people aged 50 or older.
Colorectal cancer screening saves lives. However, many people who are at risk for the disease are not being screened according to national guidelines.
It is estimated that as many as 60% of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if all men and women aged 50 years or older were screened routinely. In most cases, colorectal cancer develops from precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.
Keep in mind that you do not have to have symptoms to be screened. Colon cancer can still develop early without any symptoms.
There’s no doubt that increased physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight may decrease the risk for colorectal cancer.
The role of diet is a bit unclear though most of us recommend a diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products to reduce the risk of other chronic diseases, such as coronary artery disease and diabetes.
This month make it a point to speak with your physician and ask to be screened for colon cancer. Colonoscopy, in addition to other testing strategies, may save your life.