According to the American Cancer Society, our lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20. This March, join Saint Louis University to share the message that prevention can stop colorectal cancer before it starts and help us change these odds.
Colonoscopies, performed to screen for colon and rectal cancer, are the number one way to discover pre-cancerous growths, according to Saint Louis University assistant professor of internal medicine, Jason Taylor, M.D. A patient uses a liquid preparation to clean out their colon. On the following day, a gastroenterologist uses a high-resolution endoscope to look at the inside of the colon to evaluate and remove colon polyps and make sure there is no colon cancer.
Taylor recommends that each person take colonoscopy guidelines to heart and take advantage of the chance to remove polyps before they become cancerous.
"I see patients who frequently delay their colonoscopy because they feel well and think that colon cancer cannot affect them," Taylor said. "In some cases, it does not matter. Unfortunately, other times this delay is catastrophic.
"Someone who may have been able to have a colon polyp completely removed during a colonoscopy when it was done at age 40 or 50, may have colon cancer that is not able to be surgically resected by the time they finally choose to have a colonoscopy years later."
It's important to know when you should schedule your appointment and also to know your family history. A family history of colon cancer in a first-degree relative roughly doubles your risk of colorectal cancer.