Ask a woman in menopause if she’s had a mammogram and she’ll likely say, “Yes.” But ask that same woman if she’s had a colonoscopy and the answer is often, “No.” March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and I’m hoping the answer to the colonoscopy question will change because women in perimenopause and menopause are more likely to die of colon cancer than breast cancer. That’s right – more women die from colon cancer that from breast cancer and HIV combined.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide and the second leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, second only to lung cancer. But it doesn’t have to be that way – one American dying every 9.3 minutes.
The secret I’m sharing with you now is to catch it before it turns into cancer. Colorectal cancer can be completely prevented if it is caught early. A study in the February 23, 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (Zauber AG and others, NEJM 2012;366:687-96) showed that people who have a colonoscopy are 53 percent less likely to die from colon cancer over the next 15+ years than people who just have a test for hidden blood in stool. So getting both an annual screening for hidden blood in your stool and a routine colonoscopy after age 50 and repeat it as often as recommended by your doctor could save your life or the life of a loved one.
Over 90 percent of people diagnosed with colon cancer are over 50. Research has shown that 1 in 4 people over age 50 have polyps. Polyps are the cancer precursors that typically become colon cancer. The colonoscopy not only finds polyps, it removes them before they turn into cancer.
Many people avoid a colonoscopy because they think it will be painful. But studies also show that the colonoscopy is not as uncomfortable as people think it will be. I had one; it was not bad at all. If you are 50+ and haven’t had one, you can do better than that. Get a colonoscopy this year.
Next: 9 tips to prevent colon cancer