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A Screening that Can Save Your Life

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, what is number two?  Colorectal cancer – surprised? While other cancers, including breast and prostate, get more press; colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the US, expected to cause almost 50,000 deaths in 2011. The good news is that many of those deaths could be avoided by following a healthy lifestyle and following screening guidelines. According to the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR), there is convincing evidence that several lifestyle factors increase the risk of colorectal cancer including obesity, inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, and high intakes of red meat and regular consumption of processed meats – sound familiar? For detail recommendations regarding these risk factors check out AICR’s website.

What might be even more impressive is the opportunity that screening provides to prevent colorectal deaths. It is estimated that as many as 60%, yes that is 60% of colorectal deaths could be prevented if all men and women aged 50 years or older were screened routinely.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, most colorectal cancers develop from precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find these precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancers. So in this case screening not only can catch the cancer early so it can be more effectively treated, it literally can prevent it from developing in the first place. Unfortunately many people are not getting the screening soon enough to get the full benefit. Please check out the American Cancer Society for their screening guidelines. If you are overdue for the recommended screening for colon cancer or any of the cancers listed, please do and your family a favor and make an appointment to get them done. Since March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month this is the perfect time to address this important and potentially live saving issue.

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