The new year often feels like a reset button. Many people begin with zealous ambitions to get in shape, lose weight, stop smoking, eat right, or get that promotion. Others choose a word that they want to represent the year, attempting to alter their state of mind or adjust their focus in some form or fashion. Either way, the vast majority of those who make resolutions will abandon them before spring. If you need a resolution that you can be sure you’ll keep, then take our advice. Add “schedule a colonoscopy” to your list of resolutions to take care of something that is important to your overall health. If you’re unsure about why a colonoscopy is so important, you’ve come to the right place.
Doctors estimated that in the year 2017, they would see 35,430 new cases of colorectal cancer and 50,260 deaths from colorectal cancer. This statistic makes colorectal cancer the second leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. A screening could significantly lower both of these numbers and save thousands of lives. In fact, 60% of colorectal cancer deaths could have been prevented with a colonoscopy. Unfortunately, one out of three people are not up to date on their screening. In most cases, there are no symptoms that reveal the early stages of colon cancer, but cancer can be detected in the early stages with a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy searches the colon for polyps. Polyps are growths in the lining of the colon that can eventually become cancerous. During this 30 minute procedure, a doctor inserts a small flexible tube into the colon that has an attached camera at the end. The camera scans the lining of the colon to determine any cancerous or precancerous polyps. Catching colorectal cancer in an early stage prevents the cancer from becoming deadly. And often, a colonoscopy can detect the precancerous polyps, giving you the opportunity to remove the growth before it becomes cancer. This is why colorectal screening is extremely important.
Doctors usually recommend a colonoscopy screening at age 50 because most people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are over the age 50. However, diagnosis is rising in younger people, so understanding the risk factors of colon cancer can help you determine if you need to schedule a colonoscopy before you turn 50. Risk factors include a personal history of colorectal polyps, inflammatory intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and a family history of colon cancer. In fact, 25% of those diagnosed with colorectal cancer have a family history. Other risk factors have much to do with lifestyle. You are at a higher risk if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, have diabetes, are obese, consume a diet low in fiber and high in fat, heavily drink alcohol, or smoke. If you are at a high risk for colon cancer, even though you’re under the age of 50, this is the year to schedule a colonoscopy!
There are several lifestyle changes you can make in order to lower the risk of colorectal cancer. Many of these may fall under the New Year’s Resolutions you have already made, this will help you stay on track for a healthier lifestyle and keep colon cancer at bay. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are high in vitamins and minerals. Limit your amount of alcohol intake, if you choose to drink at all. Exercise for 30 minutes a day and maintain a healthy weight. These simple lifestyle changes will not only improve your overall health, but lower your risk for cancer. Stay committed to making 2018 your healthiest year yet!
While these lifestyle changes great suggestions, it is still important to get screened. We have an excellent team of doctors at Carolina Digestive Health Associates at each of our eight locations. If you have questions or concerns about your gut health or want to schedule a colonoscopy, book an appointment today.