Colorectal cancer – cancer of the colon and rectum – is the fourth most common cancer in the U.S. The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2017, there were 135,430 new cases of colorectal cancer, and 50,260 deaths resulting from the disease. It is more common in men and among people of African-American descent.
The best opportunity for curing colorectal cancer is to find it early and remove it surgically. This is why a routine colonoscopy is so important beginning at age 50, or earlier if you have known risk factors, such as a family history, or if you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
You might get stressed at the thought of having a colonoscopy, but most patients report that it isn’t too much of a hassle. During the procedure, your gastroenterologist will examine the complete large bowel (also called the colon) and remove any polyps they see.
The polyps are removed during the colonoscopy and are sent to a pathologist for review. On average, 15 percent of women and 25 percent of men over age 50 will have pre-cancerous polyps detected in a colonoscopy. Having these polyps removed early is lifesaving. In fact, up to 85 percent of colorectal cancers could be prevented if everyone who was eligible for a colonoscopy screening actually got screened.
Discuss your need for a colonoscopy with your doctor. They can help guide you if you should get an exam sooner than age 50. Don’t put off getting this lifesaving exam!
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 UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.
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