Colon Health: What You Need to Know
One of the trickle-down effects of the pandemic that providers have experienced is sicker patients due to deferred testing. One test that understandably went by the wayside is the colonoscopy.
Younger Hit by Disease
Excluding skin cancers, the American Association of Cancer lists colorectal cancer as the third most diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the U.S. The CDC ranks it second among the leading causes of cancer deaths. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates 104,270 new cases of colon cancer and 45,230 new cases of rectum cancer will occur this year. Men and women 50 or older have almost the same odds of developing colorectal cancer.
“In the last few years,” said Dr. María González Berlari, a family doctor and geriatrician in the Equality Health Network, “there has been an increase of colorectal cancer cases in young people. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery has recommended that we educate our patients and begin detection at 45 years old if any have a direct family member with colon cancer at an early age as a preventative measure.”
Research shows that detection tests reduce the risk of death. The ACS states the five-year survival rate of early detection of colon cancer for 39% of patients is 90% and cancer of the rectum slightly higher.
Colon Cancer Causes
González Berlari said colon cancer has many causes. She placed genetic factors first and then a low-fiber diet.
“Another factor for colon cancer can simply be age,” González Berlari added. “As we get older, the chances of developing the disease increases. Viruses, such as HPV, affect the rectum and can develop into cancer. There are other illnesses such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis that affect the colon and increase the odds of having colorectal cancer.”
Talk to your doctor to find out if a colon cancer screening is right for you. Need a doctor? Visit www.equalityhealth.com/members/providers .