Why Get Screened For Colorectal Cancer

   Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon and the rectum. The colon is the large intestine; the rectum is the end of the large intestine. Most colorectal cancers begin as a growth called a polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Some types of polyps can change into cancer over the course of several years, but not all polyps become cancer. 
   Even though colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cancer killer in the U.S., it can be prevented.  Screening helps find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.  Screening can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment is most effective.  
   However, more than 1 in 3 adults in the United States who fall within the recommended screening guidelines are still not being tested for colorectal cancer. 
   There are several myths surrounding colorectal cancer. Don’t let these stop you from getting the life-saving screening tests you need, when you need them.
   Myth #1:  Colorectal cancer is a man’s disease.  TRUTH: Colorectal cancer is almost as common among women as men.
   MYTH # 2:  Colorectal cancer cannot be prevented.  TRUTH: In many cases colorectal cancer CAN be prevented. Colorectal cancer almost always starts with a small growth called a polyp. If the polyp is found early, it can be removed, stopping the cancer before it starts.
   MYTH # 3: African Americans are not at risk for colorectal cancer. TRUTH: African-American men and women are diagnosed with and die from colorectal cancer at higher rates than men and women of any other US racial or ethnic group.
   MYTH # 4: Age doesn’t matter when it comes to getting colorectal cancer. TRUTH: Most colorectal cancers are found in people age 50 and older. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends you start getting screened for this cancer when you’re 50.
   MYTH # 5: It’s better not to get tested for colorectal cancer because it’s deadly anyway. TRUTH:  Colorectal cancer is often highly treatable. If it’s found and treated early, the 5-year relative survival rates is about 90 percent. 
   There are low-cost screening tests for colon cancer, that can even be done in the comfort of your own home. A doctor can advise as to which test is best for you. “As a physician, I regularly talk to my patients about colorectal cancer screening,” said Dr. Daniel Domjan, MD, FACS. “Many have concerns about the prep or the invasiveness of a colonoscopy procedure, BUT there are several less invasive tests available.  Although they are easier to have done, they must be performed more frequently – about once a year. Ultimately, the best test is colonoscopy, but any test is better than none.” 
   In 2015, the American Cancer Society published a study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research which analyzed four decades of county-level mortality data from the national vital statistics system. The study found that the largest hotspot for colorectal cancer (CRC) deaths was a 94-county area in the lower Mississippi Delta, including the following 15 southeastern Missouri counties: Bollinger, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Carter, Dunklin, Iron, Madison, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Perry, Scott, St. Francis, Stoddard, and Wayne.  From 2009 – 2011, CRC death rates were 40 percent higher than the non-hotspot areas in the rest of the US. In partnership with other organizations, the American Cancer Society is working to increase colon cancer screening rates in the bootheel of Missouri, and to find solutions to cancer screening barriers in the area.
   For more information about colon cancer, visit or call 1-800-227-2345. ∆
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