In 2016, colorectal cancer caused just under 50,000 deaths in the U.S. alone, making it the second-deadliest form of cancer among men and women combined. But, it doesn’t have to be. The difference between colorectal cancer and many others is that colorectal cancer has a reliable method of prevention and early detection.
Enter the colonoscopy.
Yes, it has a negative connotation. Associated with a less-than-fun bowel-cleansing preparation process, the procedure itself has also been known to be uncomfortable. But those were yesteryear colonoscopies. Nowadays, there are new methods of preparation that have revolutionized the old standards of laxatives and colon cleansers. Alas, the days of hard-to-swallow, chalky substances are gone.
Newer means of prep. include dissolvable powders with little to no taste that can be mixed with water and sports drinks, allowing for a smoother drinking experience and the added bonus of hydration. In addition, future methods are being tested that include pairing flavored nutrition bars with laxative drink powders. This combo preempts the pre-exam fast while also clearing the bowel.
With such varying means of exam preparation (both presently and on the horizon), preventing and catching colorectal cancer is simpler than it has ever been. For those who meet the qualifications and haven’t had an exam, it’s time to start looking into an annual colonoscopy/screening.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the criteria includes:
- Age (50+, or over 40 if you are high risk)
- Family history of colorectal polyps/cancers
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- History of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Physical Inactivity
- Type 2 diabetes
Regrettably, only about 60 percent of people who fit the qualifications were up-to-date on their screenings, according to 2016 ACS polls. And most of the remaining 40 percent had never been screened at all. This is unfortunate since screenings are very accurate and have the potential to make colorectal cancer far more treatable when caught in its early stages.
Since March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, it is imperative to think proactively when it relates to your colorectal health. With awareness comes precaution, and regular screenings may be one of the most integral parts of reducing colorectal cancer-related deaths in the future. Get screened today!