Four Reasons to Get Screened for Colorectal Cancer Right Now
Keeping up with your colon and rectal screening could very well save your life and prevent future cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). In the U.S., the lifelong risk of colorectal cancer is 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women, per the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG). African Americans are about 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and about 40% more likely to die from it than most other groups, also according to the ACS.
With screening, colorectal cancer can be preventable.
While there are several colorectal screening options, colonoscopy is considered the gold standard. It is a unique cancer screening because not only can it detect, but it also removes colon polyps, which could become cancerous.
Here are reasons you should consider getting screened for colorectal cancer right now:
1. You are 45 years of age (or older).
Everyone should begin routine colon cancer screenings at the age of 45. The recommended age was recently lowered from 50 because of increasing data suggesting an increased risk in younger patients.
2. You have a family history.
According to the American Society of Colorectal Surgeons, if you have a strong family history of colon cancer or precancerous colon polyps, you should begin screening 10 years before any first-degree relative was diagnosed, or at age 40, whichever is earlier. You should also begin earlier screening if you have a known family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes like familial adenomatosis polyposis or Lynch syndrome.
3. You have a personal history.
You should speak with your doctor about screening before age 45 if you have a personal history of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, or if you have received radiation to the abdomen or pelvis for cancer treatment.
4. You are experiencing symptoms.
Colon cancer can occur at any age and affect any gender or any race. Therefore, if you are experiencing a persistent change in bowel habits, stool consistency, continuous abdominal discomfort, rectal bleeding, blood streaking your stool, weakness, fatigue or weight loss, see your physician immediately. You may need further tests that include an earlier colonoscopy.
Speak with your doctor as soon as possible if you meet any of the above criteria, or if you have other concerns. Your physician is here to listen and help you make your health a priority.
Dr. Tahilramani is a board-certified colorectal surgeon. She received her medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. and completed her general surgery residency at INOVA Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va. Dr. Tahilramani was a research fellow at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, in Houston, TX. She also completed both an advanced minimally invasive colon and rectal surgery fellowship and a colon and rectal surgery fellowship at the Colon and Rectal Clinic of Orlando in Orlando, Fl.