March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States for both men and women combined.
“Though colorectal cancer is prevalent, it is a disease that can be prevented through routine screenings, a healthy diet, and regular exercise,” explained Jennifer McLellan, MD, a general surgeon and endoscopist at Estes Park Health.
Colonoscopy is considered the best test for colorectal cancer screening and is available at Estes Park Health. Other screening tests available include flexible sigmoidoscopy (a visual examination of the rectum and lower portion of the colon), testing the stool for blood (fecal occult blood testing or fecal immunochemical testing), and fecal DNA testing.
The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age. All men and women 45 and older are at risk for developing colorectal cancer and should be screened. Some people are at a higher risk and should be screened at an age younger than 45, including those with a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease; colorectal cancer or polyps; or ovarian, endometrial or breast cancer.
Since there are very few symptoms associated with colorectal cancer, regular screening is essential. Colorectal cancer is preventable if polyps are detected and removed and is often curable if the cancer is detected in its early stages.
“If detected, colorectal cancer requires surgery in nearly all cases, sometimes in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy,” said Dr. McLellan. “Between 80-90% of patients regain normal health if the cancer is detected and treated in the earliest stages. However, the cure rate drops to 50% or less when diagnosed in the later stages.”
Colorectal cancer screening costs are covered by Medicare and many commercial health plans. Schedule an appointment with your physician at Estes Park Health to find out what screening methods are right for you.
Colorectal cancer screening costs are covered by Medicare and many commercial health plans. Schedule an appointment with your physician at Estes Park Health to find out what screening methods are right for you by calling 970-586-2317.
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