If you take charge of your health, you can help prevent colon cancer. Colon cancer is the third most
common type of cancer in both men women. And, 50,000
people die of colon cancer every year. The overwhelming majority of people with colon cancer are over 50.What can you do to minimize the risk of colon cancer
significantly? Get a colonoscopy, which is a colon cancer screening that will identify cancer or precancerous polyps that need removing or monitoring.
When should you get your first screening and how frequently should you get one? It depends on your family history. Generally, without a family history, you should get your first colonoscopy at 50. After that, colon cancer screening frequency varies quite a bit from individual to individual and depends heavily on both the results of your screening and your medical and family history. Talk with your doctor about what is best for you.If your results are normal, with no evidence of growths and you don’t have a family history of colon cancer, you can wait ten years
before getting another colonoscopy. That’s because the data show that precancerous polyps take more than ten years to grow into a cancerous form. If the test shows you have polyps (or growths) on your colon, the doctor will generally remove them. When you have to be screened again will depend on the size and type of growth.
The test itself is safe and is generally painless. However, it takes time and can be an inconvenience. For example, you usually have to drink an enormous amount of liquid the night before the test in order to clean out your system. You are also limited in what you can eat and drink the day before and day of the test. And you might need someone to drive you to and from the appointment.
Very rarely, a colonoscopy can cause infections, heavy bleeding or tears in your colon, so it is not completely risk free. However, as always you should weigh your history and risk with your doctor.