It’s colon cancer awareness month. Have you been screened?

By Dr. Patricia Hayes, Director of Family Practice

Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Every year, about 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 people die from it. Fortunately, this disease is often treatable, when caught early.

Screening, which begins at age 50 and continues until age 75, is the best way to catch colon cancer early. Colonoscopies are one of the best screening methods to detect colon cancer, since they can detect and remove polyps before they become cancerous, but there are many ways to get screened. Another and increasingly popular method are stool tests like the fecal immunochemical test, better known as FIT.

FIT tests can be done in the comfort of your own home, making them a more convenient, affordable and less invasive screening. Last fall, Legacy was awarded the American Cancer Society National Partnership Award for increasing screening rates for colorectal cancer through use of the FIT test.

If you are over 50, ask your Legacy primary care physician about colon cancer screenings and what method is best for you.

Colon cancer is best prevented by following a healthy lifestyle, which should include eating lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, regular exercise, limited alcohol consumption and not smoking.

It’s colon cancer awareness month. Have you been screened?