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Colon cancer screening encouraged during awareness month

March 15, 2015
Reinbeck Courier

March is set aside as Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and health providers are emphasizing the importance of scheduling a colorectal cancer screening if you are age 50 or older. Unlike some cancers where no screening tests exist, colon cancer is easily detected by a colonoscopy, according to Jessica Eilers RN, manager of the Grundy County Memorial Hospital (GCMH) Surgery Department. "It's easy to procrastinate when it comes to scheduling the screenings that your doctor recommends. People are busy and don't always prioritize preventive care," says Eilers. "However, when the statistics show half of colon cancer deaths could be prevented each year if every person age 50 and older were screened, it demonstrates the importance of encouraging people to make the time for a colonoscopy."

Since colon cancer normally begins with a polyp, a colonoscopy provides the means for physicians to remove any polyps in the colon before they become cancerous, explains Eilers. Studies show more than 90% of people who are diagnosed with early stage colon cancer survive more than five years. "Those statistics are evidence that screening for colorectal cancer works," remarks Eilers. "I encourage people who are over the age of 50 and haven't yet scheduled a screening to take advantage of the screening services offered at the local hospital. Two physicians perform screening colonoscopies and the procedure occurs in the comfort, convenience, and privacy of the hospital's Outpatient Surgery area."

The American Cancer Society recommends screenings begin at age 50 because of the heightened risk of cancer with increasing age and because many overlook early colorectal cancer symptoms. More than 90% of cases are found in those who are age 50 and older. If colorectal cancer runs in your family, it's especially important to schedule a screening.

In addition to following the screening guidelines recommended by your medical provider, other ways to reduce your risk of colorectal cancers include: maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle, exercise, consuming sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D, avoiding binge drinking, choosing whole grains and refined grain products, avoiding smoking or tobacco use, limiting your consumption of red meat, and being aware of your family health history.

For information on the screening procedures available at GCMH, contact the Surgery Department at 319-824-5091 or for a list of all health care services available.



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