New Year’s resolutions often include a commitment to health. We talk about eating better, getting to the gym, but rarely consider a colonoscopy as part of our new regimen.
The thing is, if you’re over age 50, colorectal screening is an important facet of early detection, prevention and overall health. But 1 in 3 adults ages 50 to 75 – about 23 million people – aren’t getting tested.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States among men and women combined, yet it’s one of the most preventable. Early screening can detect and, in some cases, prevent colorectal cancer by identifying and removing precancerous polyps.
Colorectal cancer is often found after symptoms like blood in stool or changes in bowel habits appear, but most people in the earliest stages don’t have symptoms. This is why the recommended screenings are so crucial.
Options include colonoscopy, stool tests and sigmoidoscopy, but the best test is the test that gets done.
80% by 2018
Central Vermont Medical Center recently became first in the state to join the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT)’s “80% by 2018” initiative, which aims to get 80% of adults age 50 and older regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.
“Colorectal cancer is one of the few cancers that are preventable,” said Leigh Sampson, senior manager for American Cancer Society Hospital Systems. “By taking the pledge to increase screening rates, UVM Health Network - CVMC will help us make progress against colorectal cancer and reduce the pain and suffering caused by the disease in this community.”
NCCRT reports that by 2030, 277,000 cases and 203,000 deaths could be prevented by reaching the 80% goal.
Between screenings and no matter your age, you can promote colon health by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight;
- Exercising regularly;
- Eating fewer red/processed meats;
- Eating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains;
- Quitting smoking;
- Limiting alcohol intake.