2019 Colon Cancer Awareness
Every March I like to help promote colon cancer awareness month by providing information regarding steps we can all take to avoid this cancer. Last year I focused on colonoscopy FAQs to help educate & dispel misconceptions about colonoscopy.
This year I wanted to help promote awareness by covering a few important topics on…
• How everyone can lower their risk
• Emphasize discussing with your doctor when you should start screening for colon cancer. Hint… there was a new recommendation in 2018.
• Colon cancer testing options
• An option to save time + copay expense
• 2019 San Antonio colon cancer awareness events
TIP: Colon cancer is one of the most treatable cancers when detected in its early stages. Discuss with your doctor when you should begin screening for colon cancer based on your age, ethnicity, medical & family history. Typically this screening begins between ages 40-50.
Colon Cancer Risk Factors
When I discuss risk factors with patients, I like to categorize them into those factors we can control versus those we cannot.
Risk Factors that You CAN’T do anything about:
• Family History – The risk increases if someone in your family has had colon cancer or polyps. In addition, the closeness of that relative to you increases the level of risk. For example, a parent or sibling would double your risk versus a cousin.
• Age – Risk for colon cancer increases with age. Those 40+ years of age should discuss with their doctor when they should receive their first colonoscopy.
• Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – Those with IBD are at a higher risk for colon cancer. Your gastroenterologist will discuss with you regarding when you need to be screened.
• Polyp Syndromes – Genetic conditions like Lynch Syndrome will increase your risk of colon cancer and the frequency between colonoscopy screenings.
• Personal History of Polyps – If you have had polyps on your colonoscopy in the past and the polyps were adenomas, your risk remains higher as well.
Risk Factors You CAN control:
• Cigarette Smoking
• Active Lifestyle
• Polyp Removal
The above list of risk factors are things we can all control to lower our risk of colon cancer. I would encourage you to discuss them with your doctor to see if they can make specific recommendations based on your medical history and lifestyle choices.
American Cancer Society Screening Recommendation
The American Cancer Society made news in 2018 by updating their recommended colorectal screening for average-risk adults by now starting at 45 years of age. The previous recommendation was 50 years of age, which is still standard starting age amongst medical societies and insurance providers.
The reason for lowering the starting age is the increased incidence of younger adults developing colon cancer. If you’re 40+ years of age, I would recommend discussing when you should be screened with your doctor.
Colon Cancer Screening Options
Colonoscopy is the “gold standard” screening exam for colon cancer. This is because colonoscopy is the only screening test that allows your doctor the ability to both detect AND remove polyps in the same exam.
Although as a result of recent advertisements, many patients have been asking if colon cancer home tests are a viable screening option. The top 3 FDA approved home tests are Cologuard, FIT and FOBT. I encourage you to read my analysis on the comparison between colonoscopy vs. home tests on my blog to become more informed regarding which exam might be best for you.
Bottom line… I’m a fan of anything that can increase colon cancer prevention and detection. Please don’t let yourself become a statistic with something as preventable as colon cancer.
Schedule Colonoscopy without an Office Visit
My practice offers a scheduling option called Open Access Colonoscopy. This option saves patients the time & expense of an office visit prior to their colonoscopy exam. My hope is that this time saving option will help to increase colon cancer screening participation rates in the San Antonio, TX area. Learn more about this option by clicking on the open access colonoscopy web page.
Colon Cancer Awareness Month Events San Antonio 2019
Whether you have a personal connection to colon cancer or just want to help raise awareness… the San Antonio area has some great events that you can participate in. I’ve provided basic information on each event below along with a link to the event website. Also, I will update event information and/or add new events to this page as they are announced.
Get Your Rear in Gear 5k Run/Walk & Kids’ Fun Run
• Date: Sunday, March 3, 2019
• Location: Morgan’s Wonderland – 5223 David Edwards Dr, San Antonio, TX 78233
• Event Info: click here
Colorectal Cancer Alliance Undy Run/Walk
• Date: TBD*
• Location: TBD
• Event Info: click here
*All 2019 events have not been published. Check back using the link above for this run/walk event in multiple Texas cities.
National Dress Blue Day
• Date: Friday, March 1, 2019
• Event Info: click here
• Great opportunity to increase awareness!