March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month; Age 50 & Over Most At Risk

Colorectal cancer is Utah’s second leading cause of cancer-related deaths; patients have a 90 percent survival rate with early detection.

March is dedicated as National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, a time to spread colon cancer screening awareness and urge preventative screening for those 50 and older. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and in Utah.  The lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is 5%.  Most people diagnosed with colon cancer are age 50 or older, yet one-third of adults in this age group have not been screened.  When colon cancer is detected early, there is a 90% survival rate.

Granite Peaks Gastroenterology, in accordance with the National Cancer Institute and the entire medical community, recommends that routine colon cancer screening begin with a colonoscopy at the age of 50 for those at average risk.  Individuals who are at high risk, such as those with a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, should be tested earlier.

Most colon cancers start as small pre-cancerous growths called polyps.  It may take up to ten years for a polyp to develop into colon cancer.  The physicians at Granite Peaks Gastroenterology know that a colonoscopy, with the early detection and removal of these polyps, is the most powerful weapon available to prevent colon cancer.

Dr. Christopher Cutler, a board-certified gastroenterologist at Granite Peaks, says, “Colon cancer is preventable. A screening colonoscopy is painless, modest, safe and covered by Medicare as well as nearly all private insurance plans. This simple test could save your life.  Many of my patients have remarked, ‘If I had known how easy this procedure is, I would have scheduled a colonoscopy a long time ago.’”

There are often no obvious symptoms of colon cancer, but individuals should see their physician if they experience any of the following symptoms: blood in the stool, abdominal pain or cramps that don’t go away, a change in bowel movements, or unexplained weight loss.

It is important to contact a gastroenterologist to schedule your colonoscopy screening.