Colorectal cancer (commonly called colon cancer) is the third most common cancer for both men and women in America -- yet it is preventable, treatable, and beatable. In 2014, an estimated 142,820 Americans will be diagnosed with this disease. In North Carolina there will be 4,260 cases; 1,510 deaths. So what does one do to reduce the risk of colon cancer? The answer is simple: Get tested.
Colon cancer almost always starts with a polyp -- a small growth on the lining of the colon or rectum. By getting tested, an individual’s doctor can find and remove polyps before they become cancerous.
For those 50 or older, the American Cancer Society recommends talking to their doctor about getting tested and which test is right for them. Nine out of 10 colon cancer cases are diagnosed in people older than 50. Individuals with a family history of colon cancer may need to get tested earlier than age 50.
In addition to getting tested, there are steps one can take to stay well and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
It’s important to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle by:
- Getting active: With regular physical activity most days of the week;
- Eating right: Choosing vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; limiting red and processed meat; and limiting the amount of alcohol one drinks to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women;
- Kicking the habit: Quitting or avoiding smoking and other tobacco products.
Colon cancer is highly treatable if found in its early stages. Since the 1990s, more Americans have been surviving colon cancer than ever before. To learn more about how to prevent colon cancer and reduce the risk, call the American Cancer Society anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org/colon.
The Society has a program in Madison, Mitchell and Yancey Counties to help women and men access colonoscopies and other lifesaving screenings. The Community Health Advisor (CHA) program is accepting referrals into the program for women and men who need information and resources regarding cancer screenings. If you are under-insured, have no insurances or are insured, this program is FREE. It is designed to help provide access to colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screenings. In addition, the CHA program is recruiting and training women to volunteer in order to educate and navigate their community members to screenings for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. Contact Kathlene Stith, Community Health Advisor (CHA) Manager at 828-675-0305 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.