March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so we are here to shed some light on a couple of common myths about Colorectal Cancer so that you can encourage the people in your life to get tested.
Myth #1: “It only happens to men.”
Truth: The overall lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer for women is 1 in 24. This is only slightly lower than the lifetime risk for men, which is 1 in 22. Age is a much bigger risk factor than gender.
Myth #2: “I’m too young to get colon cancer.”
Truth: It is true that more than 9 out of 10 instances of colorectal cancer occur in people over the age of 50. This is younger than most people currently believe. If you are over 50, it’s time to schedule your colonoscopy!
Myth #3: “Colonoscopies are painful.”
Truth: Many people are familiar with colonoscopies, but to those who aren’t, it can seem like a daunting procedure. In truth, it’s fairly simple, and most people only need one every 10 years. To prepare for the procedure, you will have to avoid solid foods and take a bowel-cleaning substance the day before the procedure to clear your colon. The day of the procedure, you’ll receive a sedating medication to make you more comfortable, and, usually, you can return to your normal activities that same day. Although it can be inconvenient and a little uncomfortable, regular colonoscopies can detect early-state precancerous polyps that can be removed during the procedure. This is much easier than treating late-stage colon cancer.
Myth #4: “Colonoscopies are dangerous.”
Truth: A colonoscopy is a medical procedure and complications are always a possibility, but the complication rate for colonoscopies is generally considered to be less than 1 percent. Your doctor will be able to discuss these risks with you before the procedure, but the potential benefits of a colonoscopy outweigh the possible risks. If you are still uncomfortable with the idea of a colonoscopy, there may be other options. Colonoscopies are the most accurate way to test for colon cancer, but fecal blood tests can screen for it as well, but need to be performed every 1 or 2 years. Discuss with your doctor the best option for you.
If you are 50 years of age or older, you should be receiving regular colonoscopies to screen for colorectal cancer. Contact your doctor today if you have any questions or concerns.