Let’s Talk About Colon Cancer & What You Need To Know
By Zac Woodruff, RN BS
First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! 2017 IS HERE!!!!
Okay, now that’s out of the way and we can get to work.
All month long this January, my blog is going to focus on one of the deadliest forms of cancer and what you and I need to know and do about it. I’m talking about colon cancer.
Colon cancer is the 2nd leading cancer killer in the United States. I’m going to say that again. It’s the 2nd leading cancer killer, only behind lung cancer. In fact, cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in the United States, only behind cardiovascular disease.
It is also the 3rd most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. In 2013 (the most recent year that the CDC has complied statistics), over 136,000 people were diagnosed with colon cancer.
Colon cancer is one of those cancers that we have a certain amount of influence over. True there are some risk factors that you can’t control such as your age or your family history, but there are many risk factors that we have direct control over.
People who eat a lot of red or processed meats, are obese, do not exercise enough, smoke, and consume heavy amounts of alcohol are at much higher risk for developing colon cancer. If you eliminate those habits from your life, you have a much lower chance of developing colon cancer.
The thing about colon cancer is that if it is found early on, it is nearly always treatable and curable. The way to find any early sign of colon cancer is to undergo a colonoscopy (there are other tests and options available, but the definitive gold standard is to have a colonoscopy performed).
It is recommended that everyone, starting at age 50, undergo a colonoscopy every ten years. As far as insurance is concerned, many insurance plans and Medicare help pay for or completely cover preventative colorectal cancer screening tests.
Next week, I’m going to start to talk to you about my own colon cancer screening. You see, I’m nearly 40; and there is a strong history of colon cancer in my immediate family, plus I was having some bleeding when I was having bowel movements. I talked with Dr. Giss about my symptoms, and we decided together that I could benefit from a colonoscopy.
Now some people may say that I am too young to consider having a colonoscopy, but research supports that more and more younger people are being diagnosed with colon cancer. WebMd (2016) reports that rates among younger people increased by more than 11% between 2004 and 2014. When you have some symptoms and a family history of colon cancer, it is often recommended that you get screened much earlier, and that’s what my doctor and I decided.
I look forward to sharing my experience with you this month and as always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.