Here it is the beginning of March and it is roaring in like a lion. The first full week of March is also the first week of the Iditarod-starting from Anchorage and ending in Nome, 1150 miles and 8-15 days later.
March is also colorectal cancer screening month.
Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common type of non-skin cancer in men and women. And it is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death in this country. These figures alone should grab your attention and cause you to keep reading.
Who is at risk? This cancer can occur at any age, though most commonly it develops in people over age 50. This is the reason why it is recommended to begin screening at age 50. If you have a family history of close relatives (parents, siblings, or children) with colon cancer, or a personal history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, or an inherited condition called familial adenomatous polyposis, you also have an increased risk of developing colon cancer.
So, how can you screen for this type of cancer? There are several ways to screen for colon cancer, each has its own pros and cons. You should discuss with your doctor the advantages and disadvantages of the fecal occult blood test, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy.
Despite any discomfort, a screening is worth it. The New England Journal of Medicine just last week reported that on the basis of long-term follow-up data from the National Polyp Study, that mortality from colorectal cancer was about 50% lower among patients who had adenomatous polyps removed than in the general population. (The polyp type, hyperplasia or adenoma, is determined by a laboratory that examines the polyp after it is removed during the procedure).
So if you are over 50 or you are at increased risk… what are you waiting for?