Recent studies suggest more than 80% of colon cancers can be prevented through screening colonoscopy programs, and the likelihood of death from colon cancer is reduced by 90%
PORTLAND, Ore., Mar. 20, 2014 — March is colon cancer awareness month and physicians at The Oregon Clinic strongly urge everyone over the age of 50 to have their screening colonoscopy, both for early detection and for the prevention of colon cancer.
According to Donald F. Lum, MD, FACG, gastroenterologist with The Oregon Clinic, and Governor for The American College of Gastroenterology, Oregon:
If you are nonsmoking woman, there are only two cancers likely to end your life prematurely. One is breast cancer, and the other is colon cancer. If you are a nonsmoking man, similarly, the two cancers most likely to cause premature death are prostate and colon cancer.
For both breast and prostate cancers, there is no clear evidence that screening tests save lives. Whether it be mammograms for breast cancer or prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) for prostate cancer, the evidence that having these tests reduces chances of death from these cancers is not clear. Experts are not sure what to recommend for preventing death from breast or prostate cancer.
For colon cancer though, it is a very different story.
The performance of colonoscopy, with its ability to identify and remove the precursor polyps before they have a chance to turn cancerous, is truly lifesaving. Recent studies have suggested that more than 80% of colon cancers can be prevented through screening colonoscopy programs, and the likelihood of death from colon cancer is reduced by 90%.
This has to be considered a major public health triumph: a common cancer prevented. We are not talking about simply detecting it early, before it has spread. We are talking about preventing it in the first place. No other colon cancer test does anything like this. No stool test, or capsule test, or CAT scan test can prevent cancer from developing. Only colonoscopy can do that.
Do what you can to stay ahead of colon cancer. Make sure you have colonoscopy every 10 years beginning at age 50. If you have polyps, you may need to have the exam more frequently than that. For African-Americans it is recommended you have your first exam at age 45. If you have a family history of colon cancer, especially in a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) and especially if they were under the age of 60 at the time of diagnosis, you may need to start your colonoscopies at an earlier age. Check with your doctor for your specific case.
Colon cancer is common. And it may be completely preventable. Make sure you get your colonoscopy when you need to.
Learn more about colon cancer prevention and screening colonoscopies at www.oregonclinic.com/colon
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Physicians are available for comment, interview, etc. – contact Amy Myers at [email protected] or 503-807-8929 to make arrangements.