Story by: Sara Thompson on November 23, 2022
Colon cancer is a treatable cancer, especially if it is caught in the early stages. Screening saves lives every year.
Steven Patton, D.O., family medicine physician, Norton Medical Group, wants African Americans to know that they can benefit from colon cancer screening beginning at age 45.Why should African Americans make this cancer screening a priority?
According to the American Cancer Society, African Americans have statistically higher risk for cancers in the colon and rectum:
“[Colon cancer is] one of the third leading cancers amongst the United States. There are approximately a hundred thousand cases of new cases of cancer in the colon and about 44,000 new cases of rectal cancer in 2022,” said Dr. Patton.
The recommendations of screening for cancer have changed slightly in recent years. “Now, the recommended age to get the first colonoscopy for a person with average risk is 45,” said Dr. Patton. “If the results are normal, screens continue every 10 years.”For patients ages 76 to 85, the American Cancer Society suggests talking with your doctor. “The doctor will take into account your risk factors and lifestyle,” said Dr. Patton.
Start getting screenings at age 45 if you are African American, according to new guidance from the American Cancer Society.Call to schedule a colonoscopy or to learn about colon cancer screening kits for screening at home.
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Colonoscopy is often recommended for patients with risk factors. “Colonoscopy is a visual test where the health care provider looks at the entire colon and can see polyps or precancerous lesions.” This medical procedure allows your provider to find early signs of cancer in the large intestine.
However, a home test may be an option for you as well. A variety of colon cancer screening kits are available by prescription. “People might be familiar with a stool-based test like Cologuard,” said Dr. Patton. This type of test analyzes a stool sample for blood and other markers of disease. Your provider can help you decide whether a home test is an option for you.
A person’s genetics are perhaps their most important risk factor. “We look for patients who have a family history of Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome,” said Dr. Patton.
“I think of genetics as the gun and your lifestyle as the trigger,” said Dr. Patton. If you have a family history of colon cancer, your lifestyle can influence whether or not you develop the disease.Some factors that can increase your risk include:
Additionally, zip code is important. “Your health can be impacted by where you live,” said Dr. Patton. “Do you live close to a health care provider? Do you have transportation for office visits? Those affect your health as much as age or family history.”
If you have risk factors mentioned above, talk to your health care provider.
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