March is recognized as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a time to remind everyone of the importance of screening for this cancer that is treatable and often curable when caught in the early stages.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States and is the third most common cancer that affects both men and women. The death rate is alarming considering screening is widely available and treatment is effective when the cancer is caught in an early stage. In fact, many cases of colorectal cancer are completely cured because colorectal cancer is a slow growing cancer, so routine screening makes it possible to identify and eliminate cancer early before it has a chance to spread.
Screening for colorectal cancer should be a routine medical procedure for adults between the ages of 50 and 75 and it is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans, yet federal health officials estimate some 23 million Americans who should be screened, go without screening every year. In other words, about one third of the adults who should be screened are not screened.
A colonoscopy is the most common type of screening for colorectal cancer. It is a physical exam performed by specialist in a medical setting. But there are less invasive screening tests coming to market, and doctors hope these new tests will encourage more people to be screened.
Facts from the Centers for Disease Control
Doctors recommend that everyone between the ages of 50 and 75 be screened for colorectal cancer
About 90% of new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed in people 50 or older, but adults of all ages need to be aware of symptoms that can indicate colorectal cancer.
There are effective treatments for colorectal cancer when the cancer is caught in early stages.
When caught early, colorectal cancer is often cured, but millions of Americans are not being screened.
If there is a history of colorectal cancer in your family, or if there are other reasons you believe you or a family member may be at increased risk for developing colorectal cancer, be sure to tell your doctor, and ask if screening would be appropriate.
Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening can identify precancerous polyps, so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.
If you think you are at increased risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your doctor about when to begin screening, which test is right for you and how often to get tested.
Your pharmacy team at The Pharmacy @ The Medical Center can answer any questions you may have about over the counter screening that is available. Stop by and see us.