March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

2/27/2017

It's the type of cancer no one wants to talk about. But according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. The good news? If everyone age 50 and older were screened regularly, six out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.

Hunt Regional Surgery Center performs screening and diagnostic colonoscopies, as well as polyp removal. Many colorectal cancers can be prevented through regular screening colonoscopies. During the procedure, abnormal growths in the colon or rectum can be removed before they turn into cancer.

Colonoscopies allow the physician to see inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. They can also look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits and evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and weight loss. A biopsy may be performed to test for diseases of the colon. In many cases, a colonoscopy allows for accurate diagnosis and treatment of colon abnormalities without the need for a major operation.

Colon screening is crucial because when found early, colorectal cancer is highly treatable. Early stages of colorectal cancer usually present no symptoms, which tend to appear as the cancer progresses. A colonoscopy is the best screening test available for colorectal cancer. It is the only screening test that also prevents many colorectal cancers.

Both men and women should have a colonoscopy starting at age 50. People at increased risk of colorectal cancer may start earlier. Additional risk factors for colorectal cancer include: age, a family history of colorectal cancer, race (African-American men and women are at higher risk), inflammatory bowel disease, being overweight, having an inactive lifestyle, a diet high in red meat and processed meat, smoking, and heavy alcohol use.

Patients can expect to be in the examination area for 30 to 60 minutes. The actual exam of the colon will take less time. Patients may feel mild cramping, however the sedative and pain medicine prevent discomfort during the exam. Most patients do not remember the procedure.

For more information about colonoscopies and our gastroenterology practice, visit
www.huntregionalmedicalpartners.org.

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