Screening for colorectal cancer is critical

psa from Piedmont Walton

Monroe, Ga. (March 25, 2024) – March is national colorectal cancer awareness month, and doctors at Piedmont hope to educate people in the community about the importance of regular colorectal cancer screenings, especially for individuals at high risk. 

According to the American Cancer Society, except for skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S. A colonoscopy is the best screening test available for colorectal cancer, and many of these cancers can be prevented through regular screenings.

With colorectal cancer most commonly occurring in people over the age of 50, colonoscopy screenings are recommended for men and women over the age of 45. The American College of Gastroenterology, however, recommends that patients determined to be at higher risk start screening for colorectal cancer even earlier. Risk factors include racial and ethnic background, a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, a history of inflammatory bowel disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, smoking, and alcohol use, to name a few.

The American Cancer Society states that “American Indian and Alaska Native people have the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the United States, followed by African American men and women.

It is believed that an estimated 150,000 new cases of colon and rectal cancers will be diagnosed in the United States for 2024, and about 5,000 cases will be in Georgia. A recent report by the American Cancer Society revealed that Georgians are behind the national average for getting screened for these cancers, at 64 percent versus a national average of 80 percent.

A screening colonoscopy is the best way to screen for colorectal cancers and is an easier procedure than many realize. A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows for an examination of inside the colon, helping doctors to identify precancerous polyps, which are abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. Any polyps or abnormal tissues found during a colonoscopy can be removed and sent to a laboratory for testing.

Early stages of colorectal cancer usually present no symptoms, which is why screening is crucial because when found early, colorectal cancer is highly treatable. Depending on risk factors, a patient may be screened using a stool-based test. Patients are encouraged to speak with their primary care doctor to determine which screening option is the best choice.

For more information on colon cancer and preventative screenings, visit piedmont.org.

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