March is, as it is every year, Colorectal Cancer prevention month. It’s at this time that we should take a few minutes to sit down (provided you’re hemmoroid free) and review your gastrointestinal health. Each year roughly 150,000 people suffer from Colon Cancer nationwide, though in many of those documented cases preventing fully developed cancer of the colon could have been a routine and relatively easy undertaking.
Most people will, at some point or another, develop polyps along the inner lining of their colon. Polyps are small, benign, non-malignant, pre-cancerous growths that if given time to develop promote the spread of cancer. So what can we do to counteract this seemingly inevitable polyp growth? Well, the answer is shockingly simple and astoundingly effective.
Polyps don’t develop in the colon until about age 45-55, though they have been known to rear their ugly heads as early as 25, but prevention can begin before the targeted 45-plus danger area. With routine screenings of the colon polyps can be effectively identified and removed before a more hastened situation presents itself. Receiving a colonoscopy is a short and, thanks to modern anesthesia, completely painless procedure. In about 25 minutes a doctor can fully examine the linings of your colon using a small flexible tube with an affixed camera at it’s head. If polyps are found they are immediately removed using special catheters – with the polyp removal also proving painless.
It is recommended that anyone over 50 receive routine colon screenings, but the prevention can begin sooner. It has been said that for a screening that delivers a positive, polyp-free result that the recipient of the colonoscopy will be “protected” for the next 5-10 years before another screening would be necessary. For someone who, due to negative colonoscopy results, had polyps removed the typical time frame for checkups is 1-3 years, as polyps are known to grow back once removal has been completed.
Because of increased efforts to promote colon screenings and polyp removal colon cancer has decreased 25% among New Yorkers in the last decade, but ever more can be done. Get yourself tested and make sure that you keep this highly preventable disease just that; prevented. A colonoscopy is a more effective way of preventing colon cancer than mammograms help in preventing breast cancer – just to give you an idea at how beneficial getting yourself checked can be. You’ll thank yourself for making an appointment.