A report published in JAMA Oncology this month reveals promising news for the more than 140,000 Americans diagnosed with colorectal cancer, especially for those among 50 to 64 years old. While cancer remains a leading cause of death, advances in technology and treatment is helping to boost survival rates, as well as continued awareness of prevention and early detection. As March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Utica Park Clinic health care providers remind us that we need to begin regular colorectal cancer screenings at the age of 50, unless your health care provider advises earlier screening. As colorectal cancer may be asymptotic until later stages of development, screening is important not only for early detection, but for prevention as well.
The report analyzed more than 1 million people diagnosed with cancers of the breast, colon or rectum, liver, lung, prostate and ovaries from 1990 to 2009. Among colorectal cancer, survival rates increased 43 percent in the 2005-2009 timeframe compared to those diagnosed from 1990-1994. However, survival rates dropped to only a 12 percent improvement for anyone over the age 75. This data reinforces what health care experts have been advising - that patients receive regular colorectal cancer screening from the ages of 50 to 75.
Screening for cancers of the colon and rectum help detect cancer early, while also preventing further development. When precancerous polyps are discovered during a colonoscopy, for example, they can be removed before the cancer develops further. As most polyps develop of the course of 10 to 15 years, removing all precancerous polyps helps to ensure that cancer will not develop. Despite the effectiveness of colonoscopy screening, only half of Americans who should get a colonoscopy do and many say fear as the main reason for not doing so.
As we continue National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, we will share more information about what you need to know about colorectal cancer screenings available, as well as risk factors and lifestyle modifications to reduce your risk. If you are 50 or older, now is the time to schedule your screening. To contact a Utica Park Clinic gastroenterologist please click here or call 918-579-DOCS to schedule a consultation or screening.