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Thanks to colonoscopy, cases of colon cancer are reduced.

Colonoscopy: everything you need to know

Good news! The American Cancer Society reported that the incidence rate of colon cancer in Americans over age 50 fell by 30 percent between 2000 and 2010. This achievement is largely due to the increase in people who undergo colonoscopy as an early detection test. Have you already made yours?

Prevention is better than cure, as we have always emphasized in Life and Health. And the case of the reduction in the incidence rate of colon cancer (or colorectal cancer) in the United States proves us right. It is a lesson for everyone, regardless of the country in which they live.

An analysis of national data found that overall colon cancer rates fell an average of 3.4 percent per year between 2001 and 2010 (an overall total of 30 percent), a reduction that both researchers at the American Cancer Society as experts generally attribute to an increase in colonoscopies. In detail, the study found that while colon cancer cases were declining, rates of colonoscopies performed on people ages 50 to 75 rose sharply, from 19 percent in 2000 to 55 percent. in 2010.

Awareness and information about cancer in general and this type in particular have been key. According to the Centers for Disease Detection, Control and Prevention (CDC), of the cancers that affect both men and women, colon (or colorectal) cancer is the second type of cancer. deadliest cancer in the United States. But, based on the evidence, Americans appear to have found an effective way to deal with it. And although colon cancer causes deaths, it is preventable if tests are carried out to avoid it or detect it in time.

Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (or irregular growths) in areas of the intestine such as the colon and rectum. Screening tests, such as colonoscopy, can find these polyps, allowing them to be removed before they turn into cancer (pictured, a polyp is removed during the same colonoscopy). It is not surprising then that an increase in the number of colonoscopies has translated into fewer cases of colorectal cancer. The results of the study, published in the March/April issue of the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, are evident:

  • Overall cancer incidence rates decreased by 3.4 percent per year between 2001 and 2010, with significant differences in several age groups. For example: Rates fell by 3.9 percent a year for people age 50 and older.
  • An increase of 1.1 percent was observed, however, in people under 50 years of age, perhaps due to increased rates of obesity, sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits in this group. It should also be noted that colonoscopy is not recommended as a routine test in people under 50 years of age, unless they have other risk factors.
  • The largest reduction in the rate of colon cancer was in people over 65 years of age, which experts attribute to an increase in screening tests carried out on elderly people, beneficiaries of the Medicare health program.
  • The researchers also found that deaths from colon cancer have also decreased in those ten years at a rate of 3 percent per year.

These numbers are a powerful incentive not to skip your next colonoscopy or any other screening test such as the one performed to detect hidden blood in stool. Do you know when you should start doing them? According to the US Preventive Services Task Force, these tests should begin when you turn 50 and be done at regular intervals until you turn 75. However, you may need to start earlier if:

  • You or a close family member have had colorectal polyps or colon cancer.
  • You suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis.
  • You have some type of genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis, a rare hereditary disease that is characterized by the appearance of several benign polyps in the colon or rectum after the age of 20 or 30.

Do you have questions or have you experienced any worrying symptoms, such as blood in your stool, changes in your bowel movements, fatigue, diarrhea or constipation? Make an appointment with your health professional to discuss your symptoms and look for the cause in time, no matter which country you live in. He or she will also explain the recommended screening schedule for you and your age. Don't forget: prevention is better than cure.


"Because prevention is better than cure"

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