House Call: Colorectal Cancer Awareness – Importance of Screening
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, colon exams cut death risk from colorectal cancer in half.
People ages 50 to 75 are most likely to get colon cancer, but only about half of the people that fall into that age bracket in the U.S. get screened. Colonoscopies are the gold standard of screening methods for colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer occurs in men and women equally, therefore it is recommended for everyone to begin getting colonoscopies at the age of fifty, unless there is a family history of the disease.
Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include rectal bleeding, substantial change in bowel habits, unexplained abdominal pain and/or unusual weight loss. Symptoms of colorectal cancer most often present in the late stages of the disease, when treatment and curing it can prove much more difficult. Risk for developing colorectal cancer increases with age and family history of the disease, but most cases of colorectal cancer are spontaneous.
The late presenting symptoms and spontaneity of the disease also emphasize the importance of getting screened through the use of colonoscopy. Through the use of colonoscopy, gastroenterologists can not only detect and diagnose malignancies in the colon, but they can also detect and remove possibly pre-cancerous polyps lining the colon—significantly decreasing risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Despite common belief, colonoscopies are painless procedures in which the patient is properly sedated and gastroenterologists are actually able to remove any polyps discovered during the colonoscopy procedure as well.
Cone Health is dedicated to building colorectal awareness in the community, and is holding a colorectal cancer seminar and screening on Monday, March 4th at the Cone Health Cancer Center. The seminar is free, but registration is required. To register, call 832-8000 or visit conehealth.com.
Dan Madden is a registered nurse at Cone Health Endoscopy Department. He received an Associate Degree in Nursing from Guilford Technical Community College in 1998. Dan also became a certified gastroenterology registered nurse in 2012. He has been a Cone Health employee since 1985.