May is Women’s Health Month, and we celebrate Women’s Health Week May 14-20. This initiative aims to encourage women to prioritize their wellness and help other women make healthy choices.
Colon cancer screening is essential to a woman’s health because most colon cancer is treatable when diagnosed early.
Importance of routine colon cancer screenings
Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but many cases are preventable with regular screenings. Colonoscopy is the gold standard of colon cancer screening because it allows a gastroenterologist to examine the entire colon for polyps and abnormalities. Most polyps can be removed during the procedure, thereby preventing them from becoming cancer.
Younger people with later stage colon cancer
Although colon cancer cases are decreasing overall, colon cancer incidence continues to rise in younger adults. Research in 2019 found that adults younger than 55 comprised 20 percent of new colon cancer cases. Also, studies found the proportion of adults with later-stage colon cancer was 60 percent in 2019, compared to 52 percent in the mid-2000s.
No one knows why more young people are developing colon cancer.
“There is a lot of research going on,” said Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD, senior vice president for surveillance and health equity science at the American Cancer Society. “Some people say it’s probably obesity or changes in diet over the past decades that might be a reason, but really, we don’t know exactly what causes this rapid rise in colorectal cancer incidence rates."
Routine colon cancer screenings prevent cancer
The best defense against colon cancer is screening. However, Dr. Jemal said only 4 out of 10 adults get screened at proper intervals.
“If we were to raise colorectal cancer screening up to 80 percent, we estimated tens of thousands of cases could be averted, and thousands of lives could be saved,” he said.
The recommended age for colon cancer screening is 45, but many adults are at risk for developing the disease earlier. If you have a family history of colon cancer or if you have a history of precancerous polyps, you may be able to get a colonoscopy earlier.
Make an appointment for a colonoscopy
Talk to your doctor about when to schedule a colonoscopy. Everyone is at risk for colon cancer, regardless of age. It’s essential to be familiar with warning signs of colon cancer, such as abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits or rectal bleeding. Colon cancer is more likely to be at a later stage when symptoms are present, so contact your doctor immediately if you are experiencing any of the warning signs.
Are you under the care of a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist? If you are looking for a physician, we can help. Our colon cancer screening centers are located across the country, and they are accepting new patients. Celebrate Women’s Health Month by making a colonoscopy appointment and saying “yes” to good health.