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Prostate cancer gets plenty of press. And pro baseball players use pink bats on Mother's Day to help strike out breast cancer. But where's the love for colon cancer?
While decidedly not trendy—who has bumper stickers with "save your colon" slogans?—and uncomfortable to discuss, colon cancer is the nation's second-leading cancer killer. Since March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, it's a good time to open the discussion.
Ami S. Behara, MD, MS, board-certified gastroenterologist with Northwest Community Healthcare's (NCH) Medical Group, talks about the No. 1 way to detect and prevent colon cancer.
Colonoscopy is the gold standard for detecting early—or even precancerous—signs of colorectal cancer.
"The benefits of colonoscopy over other methods of screening would be that we can detect early cancer and colon polyps," Dr. Behara says. "Most colorectal cancers arise from pre-cancerous polyps."
In adults of normal risk, colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years beginning at age 50.
Dr. Behara notes that those at higher risk should talk to their doctor about earlier and more frequent screening.
The Colon Cancer Alliance suggests that if everyone age 50 and older had regular screening tests, as many as eight in 10 colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented.
At Northwest Community Healthcare's Gastroenterology Center, colonoscopy patients have these advantages: