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There is a reason why doctors stress the importance of starting colon cancer screening at age 50. Early detection makes a huge difference. Sadly, too many people ignore the importance of this life-saving screening either because they figure they are too young or because they don’t have any symptoms.


However, over the last two decades, the rates of people age 20-49 with colorectal cancers has increased significantly. Researchers are still trying to figure out exactly why.


In its early stages colon cancer has no symptoms. And when caught early, most people with colon cancer will be cured. Colon cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. In fact, when diagnosed in the early stages, the five-year survival rate (people alive five years post-diagnosis) ranges from 70 to 97 percent.


Here are some suggestions on getting screened for colon cancer:


Don’t Ignore Symptoms. The most advanced forms of colorectal cancers usually occur in younger people who were told that they are “too young” to have colorectal cancer. If you have anemia, belly pain, or change in bowel habits, talk to your doctor about getting screened.  Never dismiss blood in your stool as a side effect of hemorrhoids. Get checked out.


Colon Cancer Does Not Pop Up Overnight. It takes up to 10 years for a polyp (pre-cancer) to develop into cancer. And not all polyps will develop into cancer. This is why is it so important to get regular screenings to catch polyps early and remove them. When polyps are removed during a colonoscopy procedure, they never progress into cancer.


Know Your Family History. If you have colorectal cancers in your family, your risk is increased and you should begin colon cancer screenings at age 40, or as directed by your doctor.


Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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