It’s easier than ever to prevent colon cancer.
Screening early and regularly — whether you’re at high risk or not — will enable your physician to find colon cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable. Even better, the removal of pre-cancerous polyps can prevent cancer from developing in the first place.
Everyone should get screened, whether or not you have a family history of colon cancer. It’s the best way to prevent colon cancer, which is the third leading type of cancer and the third leading cause of cancer deaths.
For the general population, we advise colon cancer screening for men and women by age 50, and then having additional screenings every 10 years until age 75.
You may need to get screened earlier or more frequently than the recommended guidelines, especially if you have a family history of colon cancer or have had a suspicious polyp. Be sure to talk with your provider at your annual exam about which screenings you should undertake.
Based on your medical history, sedation needs and personal sensitivity, you and your provider will choose which screening test is best for you.
Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy is the best screening for colon cancer because of its sensitivity to detecting abnormal growths and its thorough examination of the colon.
While some individuals may have concerns over this procedure, know that a colonoscopy is a low-risk procedure. Most of the time it’s done under sedation — you wake up and it’s over.
Some individuals may not get a colonoscopy because they are fearful of the results. But these cancers develop slowly in the bowel. Even with cancer or pre-cancerous polyps, we can remove the cancer so it doesn’t spread.
FIT Kit: Another screening option is a FIT kit, which is recommended if you aren’t comfortable with or are unable to undergo a colonoscopy for medical reasons. The FIT kit is a take-home screening kit; you collect stool hygienically and then return it to the clinic for lab testing.
If you’re 50 and you haven’t had a colonoscopy, you need to get one. Take responsibility for your own health and schedule one today.
Contact your primary care provider or visit Avera.org/colon to schedule your colonoscopy today and to take a colon cancer risk assessment.