Screenings: Life-savers for colorectal cancer
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March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and an opportunity to bring attention to potentially lifesaving actions people can take. This year, the American Cancer Society estimates over 135,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the U.S., including about 3,000 Tennesseans.
It is the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer among men and women combined. However, it is also one of the most preventable cancers and can often be successfully treated if diagnosed early. The five-year survival rate is around 90 percent for colorectal cancers caught in their earliest stage.
Major strides have been made increasing colorectal screening rates in the U.S., but we can do better. If you are 50 or older, please talk to your doctor about getting screened.
As a physician, I regularly talk to my patients about colorectal cancer screening. Many understand the value of being screened, but some have concerns about the prep or the invasiveness of a colonoscopy procedure. If you share these concerns, talk to your doctor. There are different types of screening tests available. The fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and fecal immunochemical test (FIT), for example, both test for signs of cancer in your stool. They are less invasive than colonoscopy and easier to have done, but also less likely to find polyps and have to be performed more frequently. Ultimately, the best test is the one you get.
Because I am so committed to saving lives from colorectal cancer, I’ve joined the American Cancer Society’s 80 by 2018 initiative, which aims to increase the colon cancer screening rate to 80 percent by 2018. Only when we work together can we make the most progress to save more lives from colon cancer.
Together we can drastically reduce the number of adults who develop and die from colorectal cancer. Join me and the American Cancer Society in saving lives from cancer!
Dr. Phillip Bowden
Mid-South Gastroenterology Group
Editor's note: See details online about the "80% by 2018" initiative, begun in 2014 by the National Colorectal Cancer Round Table (NCCRTP).