Have you scheduled a colon cancer screening lately?

Getting a colon cancer screening is one of the things no one looks forward to, but it is the best way to stop cancer in its tracks.

It’s not fun, but it may not be as bad as you think. And, it could save your life.

 

How do colon cancer screenings work?

Colon cancer screening can detect precancerous “polyps” that can be removed before they become cancerous.

Screening can catch cancer in its early stage, when it is easier to treat, said Dr. Jai Bikhchandani, a St. Elizabeth Physicians general surgeon, who specializes in colon and rectal surgery.

Colon cancer may not present symptoms until it has advanced, which is why screening is so important.

If you have no immediate family history of colon cancer, you should have your first screening at 50. If the screening comes back clear, you should be tested every 10 years afterward, according to the American Cancer Society.

If a close relative has had colon cancer, you should be screened 10 years before that relative’s cancer was discovered, Bikhchandani said.

“So if you have a brother who had colon cancer at 55, you should get your first screening at 45,” Bikhchandani explained.

What’s “Dress in Blue Day” about?

The Colon Cancer Alliance puts a national spotlight on screening each March with Dress in Blue Day. This year it’s March 3, and it marks the 9th  annual event. On this day, supporters will dress in blue to raise colon cancer awareness and screening.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., and 90 percent of new cases occur in people 50 and older.  Regular screening can reduce your risk.

Newer testing methods, though invasive, are not uncomfortable, Bikhchandani added.

You can schedule a colonoscopy at St. Elizabeth by calling 1-800-737-7900. Click here for more information.