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Published on March 07, 2011

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

March 7, 2011

Important Information from The American Cancer Society:

Regular screening is the best way to find colon cancer early. Some screening tests may even be able to prevent colon cancer entirely, by finding certain changes in the colon and rectum before they have a chance to become cancer. Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States.

Common Myths about Colon Cancer:

Myth: Colorectal cancer is a man’s disease. 
Truth: Colorectal cancer is just as common among women as men. Each year, about 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and about 50,000 die from the disease.

Myth: Colorectal cancer cannot be prevented. 
Truth: In many cases colorectal cancer can be prevented. Colorectal cancer almost always starts with a small growth called a polyp. If the polyp is found early, doctors can remove it and stop colorectal cancer before it starts. These tests can find polyps: double contrast barium enema, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, or CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy).

To help lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer: 

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active. 
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. 
  • Eat a diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and less red or processed meat.

Myth: Age doesn’t matter when it comes to getting colorectal cancer. 
Truth: More than 90% of colorectal cancer cases are in people age 50 and older. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends you start getting tested for the disease at age 50. People who are at a higher risk for colorectal cancer -- such as those who have colon or rectal cancer in their families -- may need to begin testing at a younger age. Talk to your doctor about when you should start getting tested.

Myth: It’s better not to get tested for colorectal cancer because it’s deadly anyway. 
Truth: Colorectal cancer is often highly treatable. If it is found and treated early (while it is small and before it has spread), the 5-year survival rate is about 90%. But because many people are not getting tested, only about 4 out of 10 are diagnosed at this early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.

For more information about colon cancer prevention, screenings and treatments, visit www.cancer.org.

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