Is a friend or loved one turning 50 this year? Suggest that the birthday celebration include making an appointment for a colonoscopy. Nearly 50,000 men and women die of colorectal cancer every year. It is the fourth most frequent cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., and most of the fatal cases occur in people who have not had a regular screening for cancer of the colon and rectum. (Click on the "Colorectal Cancer" video about these tests, below). Most colorectal cancer is preventable. The abnormal tissue growths called polyps, which are the precursors for the majority of colorectal cancer, can be spotted and removed during a traditional colonoscopy screening.
Every adult should discuss colonoscopy screening with a doctor at age 50--sooner for those who are at high risk. If you have a family history of polyps, colorectal cancer or bowel disease, your doctor may recommend that you undergo a colonoscopy before age 50. People who smoke or drink heavily, who are sedentary or obese, or who eat a low-fiber, high-fat diet including red meat and processed meats are also at greater risk. African Americans have a higher mortality rate from colon cancer than others.
There is no proven preventive protocol for avoiding colorectal cancer. However, doctors agree that a healthful lifestyle may lower your risk. Eat plenty of high-fiber foods, including fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes and whole grains. Maintain a healthy weight and get plenty of exercise. Limit your consumption of alcohol, red meat, and processed meats. Don't smoke, of course, and begin getting screenings as soon as your doctor recommends it.
A colonoscopy may not seem like the most festive 50th birthday gift. But more people would be around for their 70th, 80th and 90th birthdays if they marked the big 5-0 by getting this invaluable preventive test.
Learn more about preventing colorectal cancer:
TheVisualMD.com: Colorectal Cancer
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