We are told by our healthcare providers and stories in the media that there are certain things we can do to help lower our risk of colon cancer. We can make sure to get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, stay at a healthy weight, pay close attention to our bodies and visit a doctor if we see changes. But what people don’t talk about enough is that there are other risk factors for colon cancer that are completely out of our hands to change. One of these risk factors is being African American.
Why Are African Americans At Greater Risk?
If you’re part of that community, it can be frustrating to hear that you’re at a higher risk of developing colon cancer than people of other races and ethnicities. The American Cancer Society reports that African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival from most forms of cancer of any racial or ethnic group in the US. The American College of Gastroenterology even goes so far as to recommend African Americans start getting regular colonoscopies at 45, versus the recommended age of 50 for other otherwise healthy patients. If you are African American, you of course can’t change your ethnic background, but there are certain things you can do to make sure you don’t fall on the wrong side of statistics.
What Can I Do?
Researchers have determined that part of the problem with why African Americans have a higher rate of death due to colon cancer is the stigma behind the exam and people being unwilling to get them due to lack of knowledge. Although colonoscopies sound uncomfortable in theory, they’re a relatively quick and painless exam. They are typically done in an outpatient environment under general anesthesia, so you can be back to your normal life very quickly. Colonoscopies are the number one life saving tool in the fight against colon cancer. It is always better to start getting them early, preventatively, than to wait until you are sick and it becomes an emergency procedure.
How Can GI Associates Help?
If you’re African American and unsure how to approach your GI health, contact GI Associates today and come talk to us. We’re here to help you learn about keeping your GI system in check, what to look out for, and to encourage early testing to ensure the best chance of avoiding or treating colon cancer.