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Living Through the Decades and Getting Closer to Colorectal Cancer Screening

Posted on by Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
Photo of J. Sumner Bell, MD, AGAF
J. Sumner Bell, MD, AGAF
Gastroenterologist, American Gastroenterological Association Patient Initiative Advisor

By J. Sumner Bell, MD, AGAF
Gastroenterologist, American Gastroenterological Association Patient Initiative Advisor

If you grew up in the 1970s, it was a time of bell bottoms and groovy tunes. You may have worn mood rings and watched John Travolta on Welcome Back Kotter. The 1980s brought you Madonna, the 1990s Full House, and the 2000s brought the iPod. Now you may be thinking, “Where has the time gone?” It’s 2017, and if you’re now 50 years or older, let this be the year of your colorectal cancer screening appointment.

Of cancers affecting both men and women, colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. CRC is cancer of the colon or rectum and occurs when a growth in the lining of the colon or rectum becomes cancerous. Men and women are at the same risk of getting CRC, but it is preventable.

Screening helps detect colorectal cancer by finding these abnormal growths in the colon or rectum—also known as precancerous polyps—so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. If polyps are found, your doctor will talk to you about next steps. Screening helps find colorectal cancer early, when treatment can be effective.

While multiple screening options are available, the best test is the one that gets done. So, considering all the ins and outs of the colorectal screening options, talk to your doctor and get the test that is best for you.

  1. Talk with your parents, siblings, and children about your family and personal history.
  2. Talk with your doctor about your risk of developing colorectal cancer based on your family history and your personal medical history.
  3. Develop a plan with your doctor about when you should begin screening and the best method for you to be screened.
  4. After your first screening test results are available, talk with your doctor to see if additional testing is necessary now and if the screening plan developed earlier still works.

As you’re trying to keep up with the current trends, remember to also be part of the colorectal cancer screening trend that should begin among you and your friends at age 50. Colorectal cancer claims more than 50,000 lives each year, but many of these deaths could be prevented through timely screening. You should get screened even if you have no symptoms or family history of the disease. Symptoms aren’t always present and most CRC cases occur in people without family history. Make an appointment to talk with a health care provider about getting screened, and help change the statistics.

Posted on by Division of Cancer Prevention and ControlTags

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