March is colon cancer screening month - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

March is colon cancer screening month

(WWBT) -

What we know about colon cancer is that more than 100,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, and 50,000 people die from colon cancer each year. It's important to note that the death rate is dropping.

Doctor Peter Miller, a colon and rectal surgeon with Henrico Doctor's Hospital, says it's mainly because of screening programs.

"One of the best weapons that we have to combat the disease is to catch cancer before it becomes cancer, and what we know is that some tissue in the form of polyp are precancerous tissue can turn into a colon cancer over time. So, by screening, we hope to eradicate cancer before it forms and also when we do screenings and we catch cancer early in the process they can be more treatable and people have a better outcome,” said Dr. Miller.

At what age or circumstance should a person talk to a doctor about colon cancer screening? 

“The bottom line is everybody over age 50 needs to be screened for colon cancer. There are special circumstances for people at higher risk, for example, your mother was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 55. We typically recommend that you would get a screening colonoscopy at age 45,” said Dr. Miller.

Dr. Miller adds people with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis should also be screened at a younger age. He says colonoscopy is the gold standard among screening options. It gets a bad rap he says and the worst part of a colonoscopy is all the liquids you have to drink.  

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