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March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Have You Had Your Screening?

written by Julia Korenman, M.D.
on Thursday, 15th March ,2018

This year, as we are in the middle of colon cancer awareness month, I have been thinking about two people who would have benefited from screening. One is my 54 year old neighbor who recently died of metastatic colon cancer. I don’t know his medical details, but he did tell me that he didn’t go for screening at age 50 and he also didn’t seek medical care when he noticed some rectal bleeding. Unfortunately, by the time he was diagnosed, his disease was very advanced.

The other person is a patient of mine, in her 70s, who never went for colon cancer screening. She had a change in bowel habits; a colonoscopy was recommended 2-3 years ago. However life got away from her and her husband was ill so she did not return. She was also afraid of the procedure. She recently came to me with blood in her stool and was found to have advanced colon cancer. She just had surgery and I hope that she will do well.

Colon cancer is one of the few cancers that is not just detectable early but can be prevented by colonoscopy. During colonoscopy, we can detect cancer and refer patients for surgery, but we can also identify colon polyps and remove them, preventing them from growing into cancer.

If you are 50 or older, 45 or older if African American, or have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps, please schedule your colon cancer screening. If you have rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, or a change in your bowel habits, please seek medical attention, so you can be evaluated as appropriate.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  

Here's an article from last  year's colon cancer awareness month about different screening modalities.

And one more from a few years ago, telling more about how Dr. Korenman chose this field and some additional info about risks for colon cancer and other nuances about screening.

Tags: colon polyps, colon cancer, colonoscopy

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