When we think of the month of March, what comes to mind? NCAA basketball? The end of winter and beginning of spring? Baseball season getting ready to start? Easter egg hunts? A colonoscopy?
Ok, one of these items doesn't seem to belong, right? A colonoscopy does not seem to match the rest of the list, but it actually does! National Screening Day for Colon Cancer Awareness Month is March 6. National Screening Day falls on the first Friday in March and is designated to heighten awareness for the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
You may initially think, “I don’t need a colonoscopy. I feel just fine.” This is a common answer among men and women who have never had a colonoscopy before. Many Americans do not know anything about colon cancer or colonoscopies and they are under the erroneous assumption that they only need a screening if they are experiencing pain or symptoms.
Colon cancer rarely has symptoms in the early stages, so you cannot depend on warning signs or glaring symptoms to prompt you to call your doctor or make an appointment for a screening. The best thing that you can do is to know your risk for colon cancer. The biggest risk factors for colon cancer are age, race, personal history of polyps, and family history of colon cancer or polyps.
All men and women over the age of 50 should have a colonoscopy every 10 years, and those who are at high risk or are of African American descent should be screened earlier. Your doctor can advise you about when to schedule your baseline colonoscopy. Take a proactive step against colon cancer and schedule your screening today!