A patient meeting with a doctor about a colon cancer screening.
Healthy Living

Colon Cancer Screening: “It’s Important to Act When it Comes to Prevention”

Mar 15 2021

Denise Rodney, MD, a primary care provider at Mercy Health – South Limestone Family Medicine discusses the importance of colonoscopy screenings.

There are many reasons people put off having a colonoscopy. The required preparations, being afraid the procedure is too invasive and having to take a day off work are some of the main concerns. Even though colonoscopies can be considered inconvenient, colorectal cancer is life-threatening.

Excluding skin cancers, colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year doctors will diagnose 101,420 new cases of colon cancer. It’s also expected to cause about 51,020 deaths.

The key to preventing colon cancer is screening, and the best way to screen for colon cancer is through a colonoscopy.

I encourage my patients to schedule their screening according to the current guidelines:

  • If you have no family history of colon cancer or polyps, you should start having colonoscopies at age 50. (I had my colonoscopy before age 50 and it was a breeze!)
  • There is evidence that African Americans have a higher risk of developing colon cancer. If you are African American, consider having a colonoscopy done at age 45.
  • If your colonoscopy checkup is clear, there is no need to repeat the screening for 10 years.
  • In cases where polyps were removed, the typical time frame to repeat the procedure is three to five years.

Uncomfortable with a colonoscopy? Talk to your primary care provider about the procedure. Ask if you are a candidate for alternative testing and how effective that testing is at detection. It’s important to make an informed decision and act when it comes to cancer prevention.

Learn more about the colon and rectal cancer services we offer at Mercy Health.

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