Colon Cancer Awareness

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "if everyone 50 years old or older were screened regularly [for colon cancer], as many as 60% of deaths from this cancer could be avoided." Creating awareness is the first step in saving lives.

Nurse holding a sign with colon cancer message on it.

Symptoms

Some symptoms for colon cancer (also referred to as colorectal cancer) may include blood in or around the stool, stomach pains that do not go away, or a sudden weight loss that is not triggered by things like diet or exercise. Waiting for problems to occur before getting screened is not recommended. Being pre-emptive in your colon cancer screening is the best strategy.

Facts

Here are some facts about colon cancer in the United States:

  • affects approximately 1 in 20 people
  • is the second leading cause of cancer deaths
  • affects both men and women, with men being more susceptible
  • African Americans are more susceptible than other ethnic groups
  • 90% of new cases and 95% of deaths occur in people 50 or older
  • most screenings should begin at age 50; age 45 for African Americans
  • five-year survival rate at early detection – approx. 90%
  • five-year survival rate when detected at latter stages – as low as approx. 12%

Treatment

While a diagnosis for colon cancer can be devastating to the individual and his or her loved ones, it is highly treatable when discovered early. Surgical treatment followed by chemotherapy is very successful with most patients, even if the cancer spreads into nearby lymph nodes.

Consult with your physician to see what the best screening action for you may be. It will likely involve a medical procedure known as a colonoscopy. Other tests or treatments that may be recommended include a stool DNA test, a flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure and/or a double-contrast barium enema.

These tests and procedures are all offered at the Digestive Disease Center at the Medical University of South Carolina and require a referral from your physician.

By getting screened and encouraging your loved ones to also get screened, you may not be only saving your own life, but their lives as well.