Don't Be A Sitting Duck For Colon Cancer

Every year 56,000 Americans die from colorectal cancer. That's why the East Texas Medical Center Digestive Disease Center wants to take aim at this silent killer by explaining to East Texans that the standard of care for colon cancer screening has changed.

People need to understand that it is now recommended that everyone get a baseline colonoscopy at the age of 50. To spread this message, ETMC Tyler is launching an educational campaign to encourage East Texans not to be a sitting duck for colon cancer, which often strikes without warning or symptoms.

The good news is that when colon cancer is detected early, treatment is highly effective. Colonoscopy is also one of the few screening procedures that actually prevents cancer.

Unlike other screening methods which provide early detection of cancer, colonoscopy allows GI specialists to remove precancerous polyps before the cancer actually develops. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer found in Americans.

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 106,370 new cases of colon cancer this year and 40,570 new cases of rectal cancer.

Screening tests are used to look for disease in people who do not have symptoms, according to Dr. Gary Boyd, with the ETMC Digestive Disease Center. In many cases, these tests can find colorectal cancers at an early stage and greatly improve the chances of successful treatment.

Colon cancer develops over a period of years and usually begins as a polyp, a growth of tissue into the center of the colon or rectum. Colonoscopies are covered by all Texas-based insurance providers for people over 50. Those on Medicare are also covered.

You should have a colonoscopy if you have a family history and are over 40, if you have symptoms like cramping or blood in your stool, or if you are 50 or older. The procedure is a lot easier and painless than some might think. The actual procedure takes less than an hour and patients are sedated.