St. Luke’s Health System is encouraging individuals who are age 50 and older to get a colonoscopy in order to reduce the risk of colon cancer. The procedure is recommended every ten years if no polyps are found. African Americans are encouraged to begin receiving a colonoscopy at age 45.
St. Luke’s recommends contacting a primary care doctor first but some insurance allows people to self-refer themselves for a colonoscopy. Polyp removal often is the only treatment necessary to cure any cancer found, however, if allowed to develop for years undetected, treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.
People may reduce the risk of colon cancer by stopping smoking, reducing red meat consumption, exercising, increasing the intake of vegetables, fruit, and berries and reducing alcohol consumption.
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women combined. The good news is colon cancer is very preventable.
There’s been a decline of colon cancer and death rates in recent years with part of the decline attributed to more people being screened.