Did you know colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States? According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer will cause around 51,020 deaths in 2019. What’s even more astounding: more than 60 percent of colon cancer deaths could be avoided with preventative screening for colon cancer.

The good news is that the death rate from colon cancer has been dropping in both men and women for several decades. One of the likely reasons for this is that colorectal polyps are now being found more often by preventative screening and removed before they can develop into cancers or are being found earlier when the disease is easier to treat.

However, we can do much more to increase awareness and encourage others to have a colonoscopy.

When to begin screening

Men and women should have screening for colon cancer beginning at age 50, age 45 if you are African American. People with personal or a family history of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or who experience symptoms are considered high-risk and should begin screening before 50.

Why should you be screened for colon cancer?

  • Early colon cancer may have no symptoms
  • Colon cancer is mostly preventable
  • Screening saves lives

What you can do

Get screened at age 50, or at age 45 if you are African American. Get screened earlier if you are at high-risk. Consult your primary care provider.

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Adopt a physically active lifestyle
  • Don’t use tobacco products
  • Limit alcohol intake

Care New England offers a number of services and programs around colonoscopy and gastrointestinal health. For more information visit carenewengland.org/services/gastroenterology.