While the spotlight is still shining on March, Colon Cancer Awareness Month the folks at Avera McKennan hope you take it upon yourself to find out where you stand in developing this common form of cancer. You can now take a colon cancer health risk assessment online. We talked to a Gastroenterologist at Avera McKennan about screening.
Colon cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in this country for both men and women. It shouldn't be because it's also the only cancer that is preventable. The best way to do that is through screenings like a colonoscopy which is widely recognized as the gold standard for finding polyps and diagnosing colon cancer.
Avera Gastroenterologist Dr. Dany Shamoun says, "The rest of the cancers you hope to diagnose in the early states to have a successful outcome/cure. But we can do better than that with colon cancer. We can prevent it from happening in the first place. Most colon cancers evolve from a polyp. A polyp is a lump of benign tissue that grows in the colon. For that polyp to develop into caner it takes 10 to 15 years. So we have plenty of opportunity to diagnose pre-cancer. To take it out before it becomes cancer."
Gastro Intestinal Navigator Jessica Morrell, CNP says, "A lot of people think if they've had no one in the family with colon cancer they don't have to worry about it. That's not true. If they are 50 years old they are already at increased risk of colon cancer. Family history is a small percentage of the colon cancer cases we see."
If you are 40, it's a good time to find out your risk factors. You can do that in 10 minutes time without going to the doctor's office. You just have to go online. You will find the Colon Cancer Health Risk Assessment on the Avera Cancer Institute's Home page.
Morrell says, "It divides your risk into 7 categories which are very low to very high. And after it takes your risk assessment it gives you recommendations to decrease those risks."
Nancy Naeve Brown took the HRA and her risk for developing colon cancer came back very much below average. Among her recommendations: to take a single aspirin tablet every other day - but not before checking with your doctor. Nancy says, "I need to exercise more and eat less red meat, both of which I already knew, now I just need to do something about it. "
The assessment is password protected so it's private. It's free and it's a way for you to get a baseline on how you are living and if you are at risk for getting colon cancer. It will keep your assessment on file so you can retake it and find out what's changed. It really is a great tool to take advantage of. Click HERE to read more.