March is colon cancer awareness month and colon cancer is one of the most diagnosed cancers in the United States. Colon cancer is one of the few cancers that has early detection screening tools, but people do not always take advantage of the access to health care. The Affordable Care Act has helped lower the costs of preventative care copays and the number of colonoscopies performed each year is increasing because of that. It is recommended that you begin colon health screening at the age of 50, but talking with your doctor is something people tend to delay until there is a problem. It may be the cost of the exam, the time off from work or being away from responsibilities that make it easy to put colonoscopies on the back burner but early detection could save your life.
Colon cancers are caused by polyps, an accumulation of abnormal cells, that grow and become cancerous over time. When polyps are found early they can be removed before they become cancerous or found at early stages when colon cancer is more easily treated with a high success rate. While some risk factors are genetic like personal and family history, most are related to your lifestyle. Your level of exercise, diet, alcohol intake, being a smoker, diabetes and being overweight all put you at a great risk for developing colon cancer. Symptoms include pain, blood in your stool or rectal bleeding, constipation or diarrhea and changes in your bowel movements.
If you are over 50 it is time to talk with your doctor about when you should being screenings and what screening tool is best for you. The doctors at GI Associates in Jackson, MS are experts in colonoscopies and all screening methods. Don't delay screenings, especially if you have multiple risk factors or symptoms of colon cancer, or the cost could be much greater than just your copay.