To Your Health: Regular screening key to colon health

colon stomach heart abMarch is colorectal cancer awareness month, but you probably wouldn’t know it by reading the newspaper or watching the TV news.

Let’s face it: colorectal cancer just doesn’t get the same press as its cousins.

But here’s why we Americans need to pay attention when it comes to colorectal cancer: The disease is the second-leading cancer killer of men and women in the United States.

More than 50,000 Americans die annually from colorectal cancer, and about 130,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year.

Hawaii has the seventh-highest incidence of colon cancer in the nation.

The good news is that if the disease is detected early, the long-term prognosis is often positive.

“With early screening and prevention, this is one cancer that is highly curable and often preventable,” said Dr. Mark Pochapin, director of the Division of Gastroenterology at NYU Langone Medical Center, in a news release.

Adults over 50 are at highest risk for colorectal cancer.

To catch the cancer early, doctors recommend men and women ages 50 to 75 get screening for colorectal cancer as part of routine preventive care. Others at high risk should also be screened.

There are three screening tests that help detect problems, and you should have a conversation with your doctor to decide which one is right for you. A colonoscopy, sensitive stool tests, and a sigmoidoscopy have all been proven effective at finding cancer early.

Your lifestyle can also affect your risk for this cancer.

Studies suggest people might be able to reduce their risk of developing colorectal cancer by increasing their physical activity, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding tobacco.

Help us mark colorectal cancer awareness month in March. Raise awareness about this cancer — and what can be done to catch it early. And get screened if your doctor recommends it.

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