Colorectal cancer is the second-most deadly of all cancers, killing more men and women (over 60,000) each year in the U.S. than either breast or prostate cancers. The numbers are staggering when you consider that colorectal cancer is among the most preventable and potentially curable of all cancers, if it is found and treated in its early stages.
Colorectal cancer/cancerous colon polyps strike men and women with almost equal frequency. Though colorectal cancer/cancerous polyps may occur at any age, more than 90 percent of the patients are over age 40, at which point the risk doubles every 10 years. In addition to age, a family history of colorectal cancer and colon polyps increases the chance of developing the disease to 10 to 15 percent. Also, at high risk are individuals with a personal history of colitis ulcerative, colon polyps, or cancer of other organs, especially of the breast or uterus. The risk rises to over 50 percent in people with colitis ulcerative and those whose family members harbor specific genetic mutations.
Sadly, too many patients put off screening because of the preparation required, fear of discomfort with the procedure itself, or fear of the results. Most don’t understand that, thanks to today’s anesthesia, there is no discomfort and typically (over 90 percent of the time) we find – and remove – benign or pre-cancerous polyps.
There are steps that reduce the risk of contracting the disease. To lower your risk of colorectal cancer/cancerous polyps, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommends that you have regular colon cancer screening after age 50. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of colorectal cancer patients are restored to normal health if their colon cancer/cancerous polyps are detected and treated in the earliest stages. Since there are very few symptoms associated with colon polyps or early colorectal cancer, regular colon cancer screening is essential.