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---- CANCER FACT ----

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States (trailing only lung cancer) and results in almost 60,000 deaths in the US each year. In fact, for those who do not smoke, colon cancer poses a greater risk of causing death than any other malignancy.

More than 90% of colon cancer deaths could be prevented
with timely removal of precancerous polyps.

Who is at risk?

The simple answer is everyone.Recent studies show that 6% of the US population (more than 1 in 16) will develop colon cancer, with both men and women being at equal risk. The risk of colon cancer increases with age, occurring most often in people over 50.This risk is even greater for those who have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps. Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease are also at increased risk.

Can it be prevented?Absolutely.

Colon cancer begins as polyps which grow slowly over several years before developing into cancer. This provides a "window of opportunity" where polyps can be removed before they become malignant or cancerous. Several studies prove that removing these polyps can decrease or virtually eliminate the chances of developing cancer in the future. Screening tests can also detect colon cancer early while the chances of beneficial outcomes are greater.

Who should be screened?

  • Everyone 50 or over.

  • Anyone age 40 or over that has had a parent or sibling with colon cancer or polyps.

  • Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease should discuss appropriate screening intervals with their physician.

What screening tests are available?

Ther eare several tests to screen for colon cancer including:

  • Colonoscopy
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy)
  • Barium enema
  • Fecal occult blood testing
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy

Most authorities agree that the most complete and thorough screening method is colonoscopy, which has the unique advantage of being the only test which is both diagnostic and therapeutic. In other words if polyps or tumors are found during the exam they can be removed or biopsied at the same time.

Getting screened could save your life.

Patient experience has shown that:

  • Colon cancer usually starts from polyps in the colon or rectum.
  • Over time, some polyps turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests identify polyps which can be removed before becoming cancerous.
  • When detected early, the chances of curing colon cancer are excellent.

The good news....

Over 90% of colon cancer deaths can be prevented with appropriate screening and timely removal of precancerous polyps. In fact, colon cancer is one of the few types of cancer that can actually be prevented, which makes it all the more important to consider your risk for the disease and take steps to be tested at the appropriate time.

Will colon cancer screening be covered by my insurance?

In Texas, the screening should be covered thanks to Bill SB1467, which mandated that insurance companies cover the cost of screening for patients of average risk over the age of 50 (high-risk patients were already covered).Medicare patients are also covered for screening exams.

What are the symptoms?

The most frequent answer is none. Colon cancer usually does not cause any symptoms until has become quite advanced which is why screening tests are so important. By the time symptoms develop, treatment may be more difficult. You should notify your physician if you notice any of the following:

  • Blood in the stool,
  • A change in the pattern of bowel habits,
  • Frequent abdominal pain, gas, or cramping,
  • Unexplained weight loss,
  • A feeling that the bowel does not empty completely.

© 2023 Dallas Endoscopy Center, LLC. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: Nothing found at this website should be construed as medical advice or treatment recommendations. For any symptoms you may have, you should see your family physician, gastroenterologist or colorectal surgeon.zz