March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Cancer of the colon or rectum is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US. It affects both men and women and is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the US. Chances of developing colorectal cancer increase with age with more than 90% of cases occurring in people aged 50 or older.
If you are age 50 or older, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself against colorectal cancer is get screened on a routine basis. It is estimated that 60% of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if individuals were screened routinely. These screenings detect colorectal cancer early, when treatment is most effective. Individuals that have a close relative that has had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, or those with inflammatory bowel disease should also consider getting tested earlier than age 50 and more often than others.
There are several tests used to screen for colorectal cancer. One of the more popular and effective of these is the colonoscopy. It is a procedure used to see inside the colon and rectum for detection of inflamed tissue, ulcers and abnormal growths. A colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years. This is one of the most common procedures our experienced CRNAs at Steel City Anesthesia put patients under for.
Your doctor will provide you a detailed set of instructions on how to prepare for a colonoscopy; this is called bowel prep. All solids must be emptied from the gastrointestinal tract followed by a clear liquid diet. This allows the physician conducting your colonoscopy to thoroughly examine your colon without any obstructions. Throughout the procedure, you will be under a sedative to keep you relaxed and as comfortable as possible.
How Can You Support Colorectal Cancer Awareness?
You can spread awareness by wearing a colon cancer ribbon. The colon cancer ribbon is a small piece of dark blue ribbon folded into a loop. By wearing a ribbon, you show your support for colon cancer patients that have fought the disease to return to a normal life. You also spread knowledge about colon cancer and how it can be prevented. If a ribbon isn’t your thing, there are also rubber bracelets, T-shirts, pins and other items you can wear. Learn more on the Colon Cancer Alliance website.