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These Colon Cancer Facts May Surprise You

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is common and deadly, but it’s also preventable. It’s the third-most diagnosed cancer and the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Getting the facts about colon cancer can help you avoid this terrible disease. Some of them may surprise you.

1. A Colonoscopy Can Prevent Colon Cancer

During a colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist is looking for polyps. Polyps are small growths that can turn into cancer later. If polyps are found, your doctor will remove them and test them to see if they are precancerous. Finding and removing polyps during a colonoscopy is the number one way to prevent colon cancer.

2. Colon Cancer is the Third Most Common Kind of Cancer

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed, excluding skin cancers. This is true for both men and women in the U.S. The American Cancer Society estimates that 100,000 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed in 2021.

Rates of diagnoses have dropped since the mid-1980s, including a drop of about one percent each year from 2013 to 2017. The reduction in cases of colon cancer is attributed to more people getting screened and making changes to their lifestyle-related risk factors.

3. Colon Cancer is a Slow-Growing Cancer

Polyps can grow on the walls of the colon for 10 to 15 years before they turn into cancer. When colon cancer is found before it has spread to other parts of the body, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent. When colon cancer has spread, the survival rates are lower. Only 40 percent of colon cancers are found before it has spread.

Though colon cancer is slow-growing, it’s important to keep up with the colon cancer screening intervals your gastroenterologist recommends. It’s better to catch colon cancer before it spreads, when it’s easier to treat and more survivable.

4. Most Colon Cancer Develops After 50

Age is a risk factor for colon cancer. As you age, your colon cancer risk increases. Though rates of colon cancer in young adults are increasing, it’s much more common to develop colon cancer after 50. The American Cancer Society and Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio recommend starting screening at age 45.

5. Smoking is a Colon Cancer Risk Factor

It’s well-known that smoking causes lung cancer, but it’s been linked to lots of other cancers, too. Smokers, especially long-term smokers, are more likely than non-smokers to develop and die from colon cancer. If you smoke and want to learn about quitting, the Texas Department of State Health Services has resources to help.

Are You Due for a Colonoscopy?

All of these facts are actually great reasons to get a colon cancer screening. Whether it’s time for your first colonoscopy or you’re ready for your next colonoscopy, schedule an appointment today.

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