DOWNERS GROVE, Ill., Dec. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new year is a new opportunity to commit to healthy living and if you are 50 or over, getting screened for colorectal cancer should be on your list of New Year's resolutions for staying healthy. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that colorectal cancer screening rates remain too low. Approximately one in three adults (ages 50 to 75 years) are not being tested for colorectal cancer. The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) recommends talking with your doctor about colorectal cancer screening if you are age 50 or over, or if you have a family history of the disease.
Studies have confirmed that screening is a contributing factor to declining colorectal cancer death rates. However, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States (when men and women are combined). It is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths when men and women are considered separately (behind lung and prostate cancer in men, and behind lung and breast cancer in women). It takes the lives of approximately 50,000 Americans each year. Colorectal cancer, also referred to as colon cancer, is one of the most preventable cancers. The majority of colorectal cancers arise from precancerous growths in the colon called polyps, which can be found during a screening exam and removed before they turn into cancer.
ASGE recommends that, beginning at age 50, men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should begin screening. People with risk factors, such as a family history of polyps, colorectal cancer or other risk factors, should begin screening at an earlier age. Some experts suggest that African-Americans should begin screening at age 45. Patients are advised to discuss their risk factors with their doctor to determine when to begin routine colorectal cancer screening and how often they should be screened.
Colorectal cancer is considered a silent killer because often there are no symptoms until it is too late to treat. Age is the single most important risk factor for the disease, so even people who lead a healthy lifestyle can still develop polyps and cancer. All men and women age 50 or over should talk to their doctor about the colorectal cancer screening method that is best for them.
Colonoscopy is considered the preferred screening test because it is a preventive exam; it is the only test that both finds and removes precancerous polyps during the same exam. With other methods, if a polyp is found, that test must then be followed by a colonoscopy to remove the polyp. A person at average risk with normal colonoscopy results won't need another exam for 10 years. Should a polyp or cancer be found, screening intervals may be more frequent. A study published in the Sept. 19, 2013 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine showed that colonoscopy has advantages over sigmoidoscopy for the prevention of colorectal cancer. Researchers followed 88,902 study participants for 22 years and found that 1,815 developed colorectal cancer. Investigators estimated that 40 percent of those cancers could have been prevented if all of the patients in the study had received colonoscopy.
Colorectal cancer can be present in people without symptoms, known family history, or predisposing conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease. While common in other benign conditions, the following symptoms might indicate colorectal cancer:
-- Blood in your stools
-- Narrower than normal stools
-- Unexplained abdominal pain
-- Unexplained change in bowel habits
-- Unexplained anemia
-- Unexplained weight loss If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor.
For more information on colorectal cancer prevention and to find a doctor, log on to ASGE's colorectal cancer awareness website www.screen4coloncancer.org. The site offers visitors a wealth of vital information including facts about colorectal cancer, screening options, what to expect during a colonoscopy, answers to frequently asked questions, the latest news about colorectal cancer, such as studies and statistics, links to patient support and advocacy groups, educational videos, and e-Cards.
Colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable!
About the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Since its founding in 1941, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) has been dedicated to advancing patient care and digestive health by promoting excellence in gastrointestinal endoscopy. ASGE, with more than 12,000 members worldwide, promotes the highest standards for endoscopic training and practice, fosters endoscopic research, recognizes distinguished contributions to endoscopy, and is the foremost resource for endoscopic education. Visit www.asge.org and www.screen4coloncancer.org for more information and to find a qualified doctor in your area.
About Endoscopy Endoscopy is performed by specially-trained physicians called endoscopists using the most current technology to diagnose and treat diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Using flexible, thin tubes called endoscopes, endoscopists are able to access the human digestive tract without incisions via natural orifices. Endoscopes are designed with high-intensity lighting and fitted with precision devices that allow viewing and treatment of the gastrointestinal system.
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SOURCE American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
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