March is colorectal cancer awareness month and, if you’re over 50
or if you’re younger than 50 but have a family history of colon
cancer, it is recommended you undergo a screening colonoscopy. Although
colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States,
it is also one of the most preventable.
Dr. Keith McManus of
Catawba Valley Family Medicine – Maiden says that colon cancer almost always begins as abnormal growths called
polyps, which can be detected and removed during a colonoscopy, dramatically
lowering your risk of developing the disease.
“Even though the exam is brief and typically painless, many people
fear and avoid colonoscopies,” said Dr. McManus.
In fact, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports roughly 40 percent of Americans for whom colonoscopies are
recommended are not getting them. This is unfortunate since colonoscopy
is one of the most effective of all cancer prevention methods. Learn the
truth about some of the most prevalent colorectal cancer myths from the
American Cancer Society:
Myth: Colorectal cancer is a man’s disease.
Truth: Colorectal cancer is almost as common among women as men. Each year
in the US, about 71,000 men and 64,000 women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
Myth: Colorectal cancer cannot be prevented.
Truth: Besides early detection, here are other ways to help lower your
chances of getting colorectal cancer:
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout life; stay lean without
- Be physically active
- Eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
- Choose whole grains over refined grain products.
- Limit the amount of red meat and processed meat you eat.
- If you drink alcohol, limit the amount to 1 drink per day for women, 2
per day for men.
- Don’t use tobacco in any form.
Myth: African Americans are not at risk for colorectal cancer.
Truth: African-American men and women are diagnosed with and die from colorectal
cancer at higher rates than men and women of any other US racial or ethnic group.
Myth: Age doesn’t matter when it comes to getting colorectal cancer.
Truth: Most colorectal cancers are found in people age 50 and older. For
this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends you start getting
checked for this cancer at 50. People who are at a higher risk for colorectal
cancer – such as those who have colon or rectal cancer in their
families – may need to start testing even sooner. Ask your primary
care provider when you should start getting tested and how often you should
Myth: It’s better not to get tested for colorectal cancer because
it’s deadly anyway.
Truth: Colorectal cancer is often highly treatable. If it’s found
and treated early (while it’s small and before it has spread), the
5-year relative survival rate is about 90%. But because many people are
not getting tested the way they should, only about 4 out of 10 are diagnosed
at this early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.
To find out if you’re at an increased risk for colorectal cancer
and what you can do to help decrease your chances of getting this disease,
please speak to your primary care provider at your next visit. To make
an appointment with Dr. McManus or any of the providers at
Catawba Valley Family Medicine – Maiden located at 137 Island Ford Rd. , in Maiden by calling 828.241.2377.
Sources cited: American Cancer Society; Centers for Disease Control