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After a courageous three-year battle, NASCAR driver John Andretti, nephew of racing legend Mario Andretti, has died from colon cancer at age 56. His tragic diagnosis with stage 4 in 2017 is a solemn reminder that preventive screenings can be potentially life-saving.
Colorectal cancer is now the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in America. But as the Executive Medical Director of Colorectal Surgery at AdventHealth, Dr. John R.T. Monson, tell us, “the majority of colorectal cancer is curable — so long as it is detected early on.”
“Approximately 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer annually, making it one of the most common cancers in the developed world,” says Dr. Monson. “Unlike some other cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer, colon cancer is largely preventable.”
Prevention by Screening
A screening colonoscopy can detect benign polyps, and by removing them, the development of cancer is avoided. Both the American Cancer Society and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery recommend screening colonoscopy for all average-risk adults, starting at age 45.
Average-risk adults would be anyone who does not fall into the below categories:
- Family history of colon cancer
- Personal history of certain types of polyps
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
- Personal history of radiation to the abdomen or pelvis
For those who do fall in these categories, it’s never too early to start having regular screenings.
Being overweight, eating red/processed meat, using tobacco, consuming alcohol and having diabetes have also shown links to increased risks for colon cancer.
Signs of Colorectal Cancer
According to Dr. Monson, a more common sign of colon cancer would be if a person is seeing blood in their stool or a change in bowel habits. If you’re experiencing this or any other symptoms listed below, it’s a good time to reach out to your doctor:
- Diarrhea, constipation or feeling that the bowel does not empty all the way
- Feeling very tired
- Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness or cramps
- Stools that are narrower than usual
- Weight loss for no known reason
Dr. Monson urges men and women 45 and older to begin having regular preventive screenings, if they haven’t already.
“Speak to your doctor about your options, get screened and #Checkit4Andretti.”
For more information on preventative screenings and treatment options, visit GetScreenedToday.com.