October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the second-leading cause of death among women in the United States. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, every two minutes, a woman receives a breast cancer diagnosis, and every 13 minutes, a woman loses her life to breast cancer. There are 3.3 million breast cancer survivors in the United States today, thanks to early detection through mammography.
Early Detection of Colon Cancer Means Early Intervention
Early detection is also important when it comes to colon cancer. A colonoscopy is the most effective colon cancer screening method because it can detect and remove precancerous polyps before they become cancerous.
Researchers estimate between 60 and 90 percent of colon cancer mortality could be prevented if adults were screened at proper intervals. Unfortunately, one out of three Americans is not getting tested, and colon cancer continues to be the third-leading cause of cancer death among men and women.
Know Your Colonoscopy Age
Preventing colon cancer begins with knowing your individual risk for the disease, which affects your “colonoscopy age.” Your colonoscopy age is the age at which you should get your first colon cancer screening, based on your specific risk factors.
On average, your lifetime risk for developing colon cancer is about one in 20, but factors like age, ethnicity, family history, diet and lifestyle habits can increase your risk. In May 2018, the American Cancer Society revised its recommended age for first-time colon screenings from 50 years of age to 45, but some individuals may need to be screened even earlier.
Know Colon Cancer Symptoms and Get Screened Today
Colon cancer is highly treatable when it is detected in the early stages, so it is essential to know the warning signs of the disease. Common symptoms include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, nausea and weight loss. Contact your doctor if you have any of these symptoms, and pay attention to changes in your bowel habits. If you develop tarry stools, thin, pencil-like stools or have sensations of incomplete evacuation, call to make an appointment.
Every year, 50,000 Americans will die from colon cancer, a mostly preventable disease. You can stand up against colon cancer by staying informed about your risk and asking your doctor when you should get screened. Take action during Breast Cancer Awareness Month by scheduling a mammogram, colonoscopy and other preventative screenings to promote early detection and intervention.