The colon is a vital part of the human body, but talking about colon screening can be uncomfortable. It’s a little awkward discussing bowel movements, and more awkward to provide a sample of one!
But much like middle school gym class, colon screenings are a necessary, albeit intimidating, part of life. The colon reflects how the rest of the body is functioning, and colon screenings in high risk populations can save lives.
Here are five reasons you should schedule a colon cancer screening.
1. Colon cancer is common in the United States. Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in men and women, and the third leading cause of cancer related deaths. About 150,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with colon cancer in the United States this year. The good news is that early identification of cancer through a colon screening will increase the chances of survival by a lot. Early intervention has a five-year survival rate of 90%. Once the cancer has spread and grown to be more malignant, the five-year survival rate is about 10-20%.
2. Age is not just a number. Colon cancer is most common in older adults; about 90% of new cases are found in people 50 years of age and older. As adults reach ages 45-50, it’s important for them to discuss this with their doctor and schedule an initial colon screening.
3. Relevant Risks. Although most cases are in older adults, the rate is rising in young adults. Since 1994, colon cancer diagnoses have doubled in adults under age 50. This may correlate with the national rise in obesity, as diets low in nutrition and a lack of exercise increases risk of colon cancer. Alcohol consumption and tobacco use also increase the
risk of developing colon cancer. If you have a history of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease, or a family history of colon cancer, you should be screened before you reach age 50.
4. Digestive troubles. Symptoms of colon cancer may include blood in your stool, unintended weight loss, consistent stomach pain or changes in your bowel movements. Although these symptoms are not always related to cancer, you should discuss them with your doctor to determine the best course of action.
5. To thank your colon. Colons are hardworking organs. Colons help the digestive system function and help the body maintain homeostasis. They absorb water and minerals from digested food and then create waste from the stuff we don’t need. This 5-6 foot long tube helps to balance the bodies PH, and is always on the clock.
There are several options when it comes to colon screening. The test you get depends on your risk factors and comfort level. If you think you fall under any of the above high risk groups, schedule an appointment with your doctor or our Clinic to discuss your options. Remember that while it may be an awkward subject, colon screening can also be a life-saving one.