The past year has been filled with news questioning the effectiveness of cancer screenings; here is something everyone needs to know: Colon cancer screening can detect the disease early and save lives. The American Cancer Society wants to emphasize that regularly scheduled colon cancer screening starting at age 50 can save lives and help create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.
Colon cancer is one of only two cancers (the other is cervical cancer) that can be prevented through screening. Precancerous cells called polyps can be removed before they turn cancerous. Screening can also improve survival rates dramatically – colon cancer’s five year survival rate is 90 percent when found early. However, because only about half of Americans get regular screening, only four in 10 cases are diagnosed at the early stage. Thanks to better screening and improvements in early detection and treatment, colon cancer death rates have declined in both men and women over the past two decades.
A 2009 American Cancer Society study found that long term smoking (smoking for 40 or more years) increases colon cancer risk by 30 to 50 percent. But, smokers who quit smoking can begin to reduce their risk.
The Society also recommends engaging in moderate activity for at least 30 minutes on five or more days per week, limiting consumption of red and processed meat, and following a healthy diet rich in plant sources and whole grains, including five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day can also reduce the risk for colon cancer.
Facts about colon cancer:
-In 2009, it was estimated that 146,970 Americans would be diagnosed with colon cancer.
-In 2009, it was estimated that 49,920 Americans would die from colon cancer.
-Colon cancer is the third most common cancer and cause of cancer death in the U.S. in both men and in women.
-African Americans have the highest incidence rate and death rate from colon cancer of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S.
-Colon cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Hispanic men and women. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic men and third leading cause among Hispanic women.
For more information on the American Cancer Society’s recommended colon cancer screening guidelines, please visit cancer.org/colon or call 800-227-2345.