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March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Unbeknownst to many, Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is currently the 3rd most common cancer diagnosed in women and men and is the 3rd leading cause of cancer related deaths in both. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 in every 24 women. The ACS estimates that there will be 56,590 new cases of colorectal cancer in Michigan alone in 2018.

The good news is that the death rate from CRC has been dropping over the last few decades. A leading factor in this decline is that colorectal polyps are being found through screening colonoscopies. This means that they can often be removed before they can grow into cancers or are being discovered early enough to effectively treat the disease progression.

It is recommended that CRC screening begins at the age of 50. However, if there is a family history of colon cancer or polyps, screening should begin earlier. Check with your physician to see when you should begin the screening process.

The early stages of CRC may present no signs or symptoms at all. Some of the more likely symptoms you may experience are:

  • Changes in your bowel habits—diarrhea or constipation that does not go away
  • Bleeding or cramping in your rectum
  • Dark patches of blood in or on your stool; or long, thin “pencil” stools
  • Feeling like you cannot empty your bowels completely
  • Unexplained fatigue and/or weight loss
  • Pelvic pain
  • Anemia

Other factors that may be a part of your health history, and may increase the risk of developing Colorectal Cancer, include smoking, being overweight, or having a family history of polyps or colon cancer. Colonoscopy is the most common screening test for detecting CRC in the United States. At the Kalamazoo Endo Center the average adenoma (pre-cancerous polyp) detection rate for women is 34%, a fact which highlights and validates the importance of colon cancer screening.

** Screening Saves Lives **

The Affordable Care Act requires any health plan started on or after September 23, 2010 to cover 100% of Colorectal Cancer screening tests. After verifying this with your, we encourage you to take your health (and life) seriously and schedule your colon cancer screening test as soon as possible. Ask your doctor if you are a suitable candidate for screening.

The Kalamazoo Endo Center is a free-standing, single specialty, ambulatory surgery center specializing in gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy procedures. Dr Heidi Gjersoe, MD, Medical Director; Dr Chethana Kanaparthi, MD; and Dr Sarah Wasserman, DO. All of our physicians are affiliated with Bronson Hospital and are committed to serving the greater southwest Michigan community.

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