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April is Colorectal Cancer Screening Month – Why You Should Care

Posted Apr 01 2013 10:06am

You probably  saw lots of messages about colon cancer during March colon cancer awareness month.

Now it’s time to schedule your  screening. And bug your loved ones to do the same.

Almost all of the information you will read and the commercials you will see urge everyone to be screened at 50 years of age.

But younger folks can also get colon cancer. 

For African Americans screening is recommended at age 45 - perhaps, even a few years earlier if you have a history of colon cancer in your family.

About 13,000 young men and women will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year. That represents almost 10% of all new cases in the United States alone. So talk with your doctor about when it’s your turn to get screened.

Why is Screening so Important?

The good news is that colon cancer is one of the easiest cancers to prevent and treat if caught early. So don’t procrastinate. It’s your life we’re talking about.

Screening tests help your doctor find polyps or cancer before you have symptoms. Finding and removing polyps may prevent colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is more likely to be effective when the disease is found early. Anyone over 50 or at higher-than-average risk of colorectal cancer should talk with their doctor about whether to have screening tests before age 50, what tests to have, the benefits and risk of each test, and how to schedule an appointment for the screening.

Screening Tests

• Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
• Sigmoidoscopy
• Colonoscopy
• Double-contrast barium enema
• Digital rectal exam
• Virtual colonoscopy (This screening is under study.)

Here are a few questions that the National Cancer Institute recommends asking your doctor:

• Which tests do you recommend for me? Why?
• How much do the tests cost?
• Will my health insurance plan pay for screening tests?
• Are the tests painful?
• How soon after the tests will I learn the results.

What if You Don't Have Insurance?

Don't be shy about about asking difficult questions like whether or not your insurance will cover the procedure. If you don't have your own health insurance, you may want to start at the local health department in the city or county where you live to see if they provide the tests you need
For More Information:

National Cancer Institute and  
Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation
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