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Family Matters: Colon Cancer Awareness Month

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and Deaconess is encouraging everyone to learn more about the importance of colon cancer screening. It is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. But, if colon cancer is detected at an early stage, it can be successfully treated.

– 9 out of 10 cases of colorectal cancer can be treated successfully when found early.

– Only 1 out of 10 patients diagnosed at advanced stages of colon cancer survive 5 years or more.

– Only 4 in 10 cases of colon cancer are diagnosed at an early stage, partly due to low screening rates.

Anyone 50 and older should be screened for colon cancer. If you have a family history of the disease, you may need to be screened even earlier. Colon cancer screenings are fully covered by most health insurance plans, and there are several screening options available, including simple take-home tests.

A colonoscopy is considered the most comprehensive screening tool. It is a procedure that utilizes a specialized scope to visually inspect the inside of the colon (large intestine) for abnormalities. Colon polyps are growths that some people have in their colon. Think of polyps like moles on your skin… some moles turn to cancer, some moles do not. This is the same with polyps, some turn to cancer and some do not. During the colonoscopy the physician will remove any polyps found and send them to the laboratory for analysis by a pathologist. Removing polyps is not painful and you will not feel it.

Some signs or symptoms that may indicate a screening is necessary include changes in bowel habits, changes in stool consistency, blood in the stool and abdominal pain.

While no one wants to face cancer, they can feel confident knowing that Deaconess is a certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network , a program of MD Anderson Cancer Center. This means patients can receive MD Anderson care, right here, in Evansville. Learn more at deaconess.com/cancer.

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