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Screenings can reduce your risk of colon cancer

GEHA | March 4, 2021

While there are no symptoms in the early stages of colon cancer, colonoscopies can reduce deaths from colorectal cancer by between 60% and 70%.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States.

The estimated five-year survival rate for people with colon cancer is 65%, though that rate rises to approximately 90% when the cancer is found while still localized. About 39% of patients are diagnosed at this early stage.

Several screening options exist, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. The most reliable way to detect colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy. Talk about your options with your doctor. If a colonoscopy is used for screening, polyps can be removed during the procedure before they turn into cancer.

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. Always talk to your physician about your personal risk factors.

Other steps you can take to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer are:

  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables
  • Get regular physical activity
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Consume a moderate amount of alcohol
  • Cease all tobacco use

Call your physician immediately if you experience any of these symptoms, including:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn’t completely empty
  • A persistent change in your bowel habits
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you need a health care provider, GEHA can help you find an in-network resource in your area.

“Colorectal Cancer Awareness.”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 March 2019.
“Tests to Detect Colorectal Cancer and Polyps.” National Cancer Institute, 14 January 2020.
“Colon Cancer.”, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2019.