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Article Type: Blog

Why You Shouldn’t Put Off Your Colorectal Cancer Screening

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Colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related death. And successful treatment can depend on how early the cancer was detected. That’s why it’s so important to have regular screenings — even when you have no symptoms.  
 
As many communities slowly begin to reopen business and resume activities, you might feel more prepared to reschedule appointments you had postponed. We understand you may still have concerns, but find peace of mind knowing we’ve enacted new safety measures designed to protect you. 

Preventive screenings can have potentially life-saving effects. Learn more about colon cancer detection and prevention, and what we’re doing to help keep you safe in our care.  

Take Preventive Measures Against Colon Cancer 

AdventHealth’s  CREATION Life  philosophy emphasizes nutrition and exercise as critical aspects of our health. And this applies to colon cancer prevention, too. By working these simple steps into your everyday routine, you can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. 

  • Don't smoke 

  • Eat a diet low in red and processed meats 

  • Eat more veggies and fruits 

  • Exercise regularly  

  • Maintain a healthy weight 

Even people who live healthy lifestyles can get colorectal cancer, and some colorectal cancer has a genetic cause, meaning the person developed a mutation in their DNA or inherited faulty genes from their parents.  

Ask Your Doctor When to Get a Colonoscopy 

Traditionally, doctors have said most people should get their first colonoscopy around age 50. This is called a  screening, and it means that even healthy people at that age with no symptoms should get tested. However, since an increasing number of younger adults are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society is now recommending  starting at age 45.   

Of course, there are exceptions. African-Americans and patients with a family history of colorectal cancer, for example, are at higher risk. In this case, it’s often recommended that you begin colonoscopies five years earlier (at age 40). 

Your doctor should recommend a colonoscopy when you approach 45 or 50, but if they don’t, bring it up yourself. Also, make sure they’re aware of your family’s health history.  

At-Home Test Options Are Helpful, but Not Always Accurate 

In recent years, colorectal cancer home testing options have emerged, including: 

  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)  

  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) 

  • FIT-DNA test (also called Cologuard)  

While home tests can seem more convenient and less invasive than having a colonoscopy, the stakes of missing colorectal cancer are high. Home tests are still not as good as a colonoscopy, which can both identify and prevent cancer (since polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy).  

Identify the Signs of Colon Cancer 

While screening is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer or spot it early, being vigilant for its signs is also important. Symptoms can depend on the cancer’s size and location. Talk to a doctor if you experience:  

  • Abdominal pain 

  • Blood in stool 

  • Changes in bowel habits  

  • Excessive gas 

  • Narrowing in the width of stool 

  • Unexplained weight loss 

Reporting these symptoms early could mean the difference between spotting cancer when effective treatments exist or waiting until it’s too late. 

Get Screened Safely 

If your doctor recommends a colorectal cancer screening, you can be confident that we’re taking extra safety precautions to protect you while you’re in our facilities, including temperature testing, universal mask use, social distancing, visitor limitations and more.  

We’re here to support your whole health in body, mind and spirit. Learn more about our digestive health services here.   

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