The importance of screening for colon cancer
As we age it becomes increasingly important to monitor to our health.
One particular health problem to pay attention to is the possible development of colon cancer.
"Colon cancer is actually one of the top three most common cancers that exist," says Sarah Bligh, Physician and Gastroenterology Specialist with Mercy Medical Center. "Both men and woman are equally affected, and it is an easily preventable cancer through routine screening."
That routine screening is achieved through colonoscopies. Doctors recommend screenings begin at the age of fifty, as these screenings can begin to detect cancer and polyps at that age.
"Polyps are not cancer yet, but they can grow into one in the future, so if we do a screen colonoscopy and find a polyp, we can remove it before a person develops colon cancer," explains Bligh.
Once these tests begin, it is recommended to have follow-up tests every five to ten years, depending on family history and previous test results.
While the thought of testing for cancer may intimidate some, Bligh says fear is not the intent, but rather proactivity and prevention instead.
"What may be found may be not cancer," says Bligh, "But we may be able to prevent it down the road."
Colonoscopies are relatively short procedures, taking only about twenty minutes. There is prep work to be done, as well as recovery time afterwards, but patients are in and out of the hospital in a number of hours.
That is a short amount of time, considering the future of our health.
"It can be a small amount of effort for a big amount of benefit," says Bligh.