Did you know that colon cancer is the third leading form of cancer in the United States? It is also the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men and women across the country. According to The American Cancer Society, approximately 136,830 people are expected to be diagnosed with colon cancer this year.
The good news is colon cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer, especially when detected early. This makes screening for colon cancer all the more crucial.
Screenings are the number one method of preventing colon cancer. When cancer first develops, it is normal for a person to experience few to no symptoms at all. Screenings allow for doctors to discover cancerous growths before any possible symptoms occur.
The most common and comprehensive method of screening is a colonoscopy. Colonoscopies provide an in-depth look inside the colon and rectum and allow a physician to locate and remove any abnormal growths.
“Colonoscopies are recommended for patients over the age of 50 with general risk factors,” says Sarah Oberste, D.O., a gastroenterologist with Utica Park Clinic. “Patients are sedated by anesthesia and should not feel much or any discomfort during the exam.”
Along with age, other individual risk factors for colon cancer are:
- Family history of colon cancer or polyps
- African American ethnicity, age 45 and older
- Diagnosis of ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease
- Personal history of any type of cancer
In addition to screenings, Dr. Oberste shares other steps a person can take to decrease their risk of colon cancer:
- Be aware of any family history of colon cancer or pre-cancerous polyps
- Schedule annual physical exams with your primary care provider
- Stop smoking and using tobacco products
- Monitor changes in bowel function
- Maintain a diet high in fiber and antioxidants, such as fresh vegetables and whole wheat foods
“What I see most are patients who presented symptoms too late and have had colon cancer for quite some time,” says Dr. Oberste.
Utica Park Clinic offers open access for patients to schedule appointments and screenings with our Gastroenterology providers with no referral necessary. To learn more about colon cancer prevention, screenings and to schedule an appointment, please click here or call the Utica Park Clinic Colon Cancer Screening Center at 918.579.4044.