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A disease you can avoid

NULL | March 17, 2020

Colon cancer
Colonoscopies can reduce deaths from colorectal cancer by between 60% and 70%. Is it time for your screening?

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of non-skin cancer diagnosed in both men and women. It’s also the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that it’s one of the most preventable types of cancer with the use of a screening called a colonoscopy.

A colonoscopy is the most reliable screening to detect colorectal cancer. Studies suggest colonoscopies reduce deaths from this disease by between 60% and 70%.

The estimated five-year survival rate for people with colon cancer is 65%, though that rate rises to about 90% when the cancer is found while still localized. Nearly 40% of patients are diagnosed at this early stage.

People at average risk of colorectal cancer should get screened regularly beginning at age 50. As long as the test results are negative, experts recommend a colonoscopy every 10 years.

Risk factors you can’t change include:

  • Family or personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Genetic conditions such as Lynch syndrome

    Lifestyle factors you can change include:

  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • A lack of regular physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use

Always talk to your physician about your personal risk factors.

"Tests to Detect Colorectal Cancer and Polyps." National Cancer Institute, 14 January 2020
“Determine your risk – and practice prevention.” Colorectal Cancer Alliance, 6 March 2020