CONYERS, Ga. - March is national colorectal cancer awareness month, and doctors at Piedmont Rockdale Hospital hope to educate people in the community about the importance of regular colorectal cancer screenings, especially for individuals at high risk.
“Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women in the U.S.,” Dr. Ekinadese Aburime, gastroenterologist at Piedmont Rockdale, said. “A colonoscopy is the best screening test available for colorectal cancer, and many of these cancers can be prevented through regular screenings.”
With colorectal cancer most commonly occurring in people over the age of 50, colonoscopy screenings are recommended for men and women over the age of 50. The American College of Gastroenterology, however, recommends that African Americans begin screening for colorectal cancer at age 45, based on their increased risks for developing colorectal cancer.
“African American men and women are considered high risk for this type of cancer, with a 20 percent higher rate of developing colon cancer, and a 45 percent higher mortality rate,” Aburime said.
In 2016, there were an estimated 17,000 new colon and rectal cancer diagnosis in African American men and women. Yet, the disease is preventable with proper screenings. Colonoscopy screenings are the number one way to detect disease or find polyps before they become cancerous.
“A screening colonoscopy is an easier procedure than many realize,” Aburime said. A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows for examination of inside the colon, helping doctors to identify precancerous polyps, which are abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. Any polyps or abnormal tissues found during a colonoscopy can be removed and sent to a laboratory for testing.
“Early stages of colorectal cancer usually present no symptoms,” Aburime said. “This is why screening is crucial because when found early, colorectal cancer is highly treatable.”
Both men and women should have a colonoscopy starting at age 50, however, people at increased risk of may start earlier. Risk factors for colorectal cancer include personal or family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, history of inflammatory bowel disease, racial and ethnic background, obesity, and smoking.
For more information on colon cancer and preventative screenings, visit piedmont.org.