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Colorectal cancer rate is increasing in younger Americans; early detection saves lives

Colorectal Cancer is now the most common cause of cancer death in men and the second in women for adults under the age of 50. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)

HonorHealth: It’s time to take colorectral cancer screenings seriously

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The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2024 and while the rate is decreasing with older American’s, it’s nearly doubled in men and women under the age of 55 since the mid-’90s.

It is now the most common cause of cancer death in men and the second in women for adults under the age of 50, according to both the American Cancer Society and the most recent data collected by the National Center of Health Statistics.

“We know that early detection and prevention of colon cancer saves lives,” said Alexander Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist with HonorHealth. “There are several ways to get screened, but a colonoscopy is the only method that provides a complete look at your colon and removal of precancerous polyps, which are precursors to colon cancer.”

Symptoms to be aware of include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, a change in bowel habits or unexplained weight loss and should be taken seriously, regardless of your age as they could indicate a significant gastrointestinal problem, including colon cancer.

The CDC recommends most adults get screened when they turn 45 and every 10 years after for average-risk patients. According to Dr. Lee, that’s a good starting point, but if you have a family history of colon cancer or have previously had polyps removed, you should talk with your doctor to find out if you should be screened sooner or more frequently.

Photo of colorectal Cancer
Dr. Alexander Lee (above) is a gastroenterologist with HonorHealth. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)
HonorHealth: It’s time to take colorectral cancer screenings seriously

Dr. Lee provided a few additional reasons why a colonoscopy should be on your to-do list today:

  • The prep has improved.
    For most people, the jug of prep fluid goop is a thing of the past. Today’s prep is available
    over-the-counter, some are even flavored, and can be mixed with any liquid that isn’t red,
    orange, or purple to make it more tolerable.
  • It will be over before you know it.
    On the day of your colonoscopy, you’ll either go to a hospital or an outpatient surgery center for the procedure. After checking in, you’ll talk with your doctor and others on the team before being sedated. Once you’re asleep, the procedure generally lasts about 20 to 30 minutes and when you wake up – it’s done, and you can go home.
  • You can schedule a colonoscopy without an office visit, saving you time and money.
    If you’re healthy and don’t have any major medical conditions, you just need to fill out a form to schedule an Open Access Colonoscopy, so you can skip that extra appointment and co-pay.

There’s no better time than now to schedule your colonoscopy because colorectal cancer screening saves lives.

“During the past five years, more screenings have resulted in a decreased death rate from colon cancer because when the cancer is detected early, people live longer,” Dr. Lee said. “The best test is the one that gets done, so get screened for colon cancer, no ifs, ands or buts about it!”

For colorectal cancer FAQs, visit HonorHealth.com.

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