Monday, December 14, 2009

Colon Cancer Is Preventable!

During his first physical exam in several years, 55-year-old Joe mentioned that his 70-year-old sister was doing well after colon cancer 10 years ago. Joe's provider completed the examination, sent him for routine lab tests, and gave him a referral to see a gastroenterologist for his first screening colonoscopy. The GI doctor finds and removes a few colon polyps during the procedure, and recommends that Joe repeat the colonoscopy in three years.
Not all colon polyps become cancers, but all cancers come from polyps, Virgie Bright-Ellington, M.D., writes in Chapter 4 of 'What your Doctor Wants You to Know, But Doesn't Have Time To Tell You,'' which is being excerpted on AOL Black Voices Wellness blog."Adenomatous polyps are precancerous polyps that are found in colons of approximately 30 percent of middle aged and older individuals,'' Dr. Bright-Ellington writes. "Fortunately only a small percentage of those polyps become malignant (cancerous).''Colorectal cancer, cancer of the colon and rectum, is the third leading cause of cancer death in both African American men and women, according to a study released by the American Cancer Society in 2007, the latest figures available. Higher death rates from colorectal cancer account for one-fourth of the disparity in cancer death rates between African American and white women and 11 percent of the disparity between African American and white men. While reasons for the death rate are still being studied, some risk factors for developing colorectal cancer are related to genetics, obesity, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, a diet high in red or processed meats, and heavy alcohol consumption. Protections against colorectal cancer include physical activity, a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and screening with removal of polyps, the study says.Beginning at age 50, it's recommended that you have screening colonoscopies every three to five years to deter polyps, Dr. Bright-Ellington, who trained at the Cambridge Hospital of Harvard Medical School. "However, if you have a parent or sibling diagnosed with colon cancer before age 50, talk with your provider about beginning regular screening colonoscopies approximately ten years before the age of the relative's diagnosis,'' she writes. "For instance, if your mom was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 40, your regular screening colonoscopies should start by age 30.''Many feel having a rectal examination or a colonoscopy (an examination of the colon with a camera at the end of a tube that goes into the rectum) is embarrassing, Dr. Bright-Ellington writes. You've probably heard this before, but doctors look at every party of the human body in a very detached, clinical way. It's true.Moral of the Story:When there is no polyp, there's no cancer. Beginning at age 50, get a screening colonoscopy every three to five years. Dr. Virgie Bright-Ellington is a graduate from the University of Michigan Medical School. She is a former clinical professor at New York University Medical School and a former instructor at Harvard Medical School, Youngstown State University and Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine.
Tagged as: American Cancer Society, AmericanCancerSociety, colon cancer, colon cancer prevention, colon cancer screening, ColonCancer, ColonCancerPrevention, ColonCancerScreening
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