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Published on March 07, 2012

Screenings Are Key To Preventing Colorectal Cancer

In association with colorectal cancer month, the American College of Physicians released a new guidance statement emphasizing the importance of screenings for prevention of the disease.

"The American College of Physicians encourages adults to get screened for colorectal cancer starting at the age of 50," said Virginia L. Hood, president of ACP. "Only about 60 percent of American adults aged 50 and older get screened, even though the effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening in reducing deaths is supported by the available evidence."

The guidance statement says that physicians should assess each individual patient based on their risk of colorectal cancer. Average risk patients should get screenings beginning at age 50. High risk patients should start at age 40 or 10 years younger than when their youngest relative was diagnosed with the disease.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, occurring equally in men and women. Yet, it is largely preventable and easily detected through the use of colonoscopy, which is the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening. Through the use of colonoscopy, gastroenterologists can detect and remove pre-cancerous polyps lining the colon—significantly decreasing risk of developing colorectal cancer. Despite common belief, colonoscopies are painless procedures in which the patient is sedated.

Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

Rectal bleeding.Substantial change in bowel habits.Unexplained abdominal pain and/or unusual weight loss.

Cone Health has an exceptional network of primary care physicians and gastroenterologists who are dedicated to educating the community about the importance of colorectal cancer screening and making sure people get colonoscopies within the recommended time frame.

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