While we navigate through this time of uncertainty, it’s easy to shift our focus away from other important health considerations. Screening and early detection play a big role in the prognosis of many conditions. For instance, colon cancer–the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths–is actually treatable and beatable when caught early. Although colon cancer may be thought of as “old person’s cancer,” thirty percent of colorectal cancer diagnoses are in patients under 55. That means it’s not only your grandma or grandpa that should get a colonoscopy.
Who is at Risk of Getting Colon Cancer?
Both men and women who have a family history of colon cancer are at an increased risk of getting colon cancer. However, other risk factors include being overweight, lack of activity, a diet high in red meats and low in fiber, age, and a history of smoking. Of course, not everyone with risk factors will get colon cancer, and not all who get colon cancer have risk factors. However, it is important for anyone with risk factors to get screened.
What Screening is Used to Detect Colon Cancer?
A colonoscopy is a simple procedure that screens individuals for colon cancer. While the patient is sedated, a long flexible tube with a HD camera is inserted in the rectum. The camera allows the doctor to look for cancerous cells and polyps. The procedure usually lasts less than twenty minutes, unless the doctor has to remove any polyps. Colonoscopies are painless and can save lives.
Who Should Get a Colonoscopy?
Anyone with a family history of colon cancer should begin regular screenings at age 40. Everyone should be screened by age 45, regardless of family history. If you have significant changes in your bowel movements, such as constipation or diarrhea that lasts more than a few days, you should talk with a doctor about getting screened. Often, however, there are no symptoms of having polyps or cancerous cells, which is why regular screenings are important.
Being healthy does not simply mean taking vitamins, eating fruits and vegetables, and exercising. It also means getting screened for chronic conditions that are detrimental to a person’s health and can last a lifetime. A simple screening can save a life. Please pay attention to any changes in your body that don’t seem normal. Reach out to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your health.
Do Emergency Rooms Perform Colonoscopies?
Although emergency rooms do not perform colonoscopies, they are equipped to diagnose and treat the symptoms related to cancer. They can also refer you to the appropriate doctors as necessary.