Remember the good old days? Did you
have a favorite disco outfit? Did you ever get dropped off to meet your friends
at the roller rink? Or spend hours by the radio in high school during the 80s, waiting
to record your favorite songs for a new mixtape? If you did, then it’s probably time to think
about scheduling a routine colonoscopy screening. According to the American
Cancer Society, those at average risk for colon cancer should start getting
screened at age 45. Those at higher than average risk may need to begin
screening prior to age 45, and more frequently and/or with specific tests.
Colorectal cancer is the third most
common cancer diagnosed in both men and women, excluding skin cancers. And
while the majority of these cases occur in people 50 and older, the disease can
happen to men and women at any age.
The good news is that the overall
incidence of, and death rates associated with, colorectal cancers have been on
the decline for more than a decade, thanks in large part to effective
colonoscopy screenings that can detect the disease in its early stages.
Another reason that colonoscopies
are so important is because the early stages of colon cancer often do not come
with symptoms. Still, you should see your doctor if you have any of these
Bleeding from the rectum;
Blood in the stool or in the toilet after a
Change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea
or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool;
Persistent cramping or discomfort in the lower
An urge to have a bowel movement when the bowel
Constipation or diarrhea that lasts for more
than a few days;
Nausea or vomiting; and
Unintentional weight loss.
While these symptoms can also be
indicative of other health conditions, your doctor can help you get to the root
of the issue and determine the underlying cause.
Fortunately, colonoscopies are an
easier procedure than many people realize. You will likely be given pain
medication and a sedative shortly before to minimize discomfort, and the
procedure typically takes approximately 30 minutes. During that time, any
polyps found will be removed by the doctor and tissue samples will be sent for
You can also be proactive when it
comes to prevention in other ways. Living a healthy lifestyle that includes
daily exercise, a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting your
alcohol intake and eliminating smoking can reduce your risk for colorectal and
many other forms of cancer. Knowing your family’s medical history is also
important, as a history of the disease in your immediate family puts you at a
Contact UPHS – Marquette at
906.225.3500 or visit http://www.mgh.org/our-services/cancer-care to learn more
about colorectal cancer and to schedule your colonoscopy today.