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Colonoscopies are helping save lives

March 9, 2012
The Herald-Star

Cancer screenings save lives, period.

We offer that fact because March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, when it is recommended that men and women age 50 and older be tested for colon cancer at least once every 10 years.

The colonoscopy, while not the most pleasant of all tests, can result in a 90 percent chance of surviving any early-stage cancer found during the test, according to the American Cancer Society.

Those are encouraging statistics, and physicians can remove potentially pre-cancerous polyps from the colon and rectum, or get the patient quickly into treatment for any cancer that is found.

Those who wait for testing are playing a dangerous game. Cancers of the colon become more lethal when found later, and cancer that has spread from the colon to the lymph nodes before discovery and treatment has a cure rate of just 60 percent. If the cancer has spread to other organs by the time it is detected, the survival rate is less than 10 percent, according to some doctors.

The fact is that if everyone age 50 and older was screened regularly, as many as 60 percent of deaths from colon cancer could be avoided, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 143,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer each year, and 53,000 people die in the United States annually from the the disease. Cutting that number is simply a matter of committing to take the test. If you're 50 or older, or younger than 50 and have a family history of polyps or a medical condition involving the colon, getting tested means a greater opportunity to survive.

The statistics are clear, yet only one in two people over age 50 or with history or conditions that should require colonoscopies on a regular basis have taken the test, and they are risking their lives.

Don't wait for symptoms. Take preventive action, which includes increased physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight, and have the test.

Your life depends on it.

 
 

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