Did you know…a colonoscopy can save your life?
Colorectal cancer is a cancer of the colon or rectum and affects both men and women; it is the second leading cancer killer in the United States. The cancer starts off with painless, non-cancerous growths called polyps on the walls of your intestines . If you don’t find out about these growths and treat them in time, they can become cancerous. But because the cancer may take years to develop, you might not know about it for years.
The good news is that colorectal cancer is preventable if you take proper care of your health. One way to reduce the chance of getting this type of cancer is by keeping a healthy lifestyle by getting more exercise, cutting down on eating red and processed meats, adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet, avoiding drinking too much alcohol, and getting enough calcium and vitamin D.
Even though maintaining keeping a healthy lifestyle will reduce the risks of getting colorectal cancer, the best way to avoid it at all is to get your colon checked. A Colonoscopy is a test that can exam your colon to see if you have any growths or polyps that might become cancerous. It is a relatively painless procedure as you are given medication that makes you go into a light sleep. Once asleep, the doctor who performs this screening test (called a gastroenterologist) will insert a thin tube with a camera and light in through the rectum and into the colon. Pictures of every inch of the colon are sent to a TV screen for the doctor to review for any unusual growths. If an unusual growth is found, the doctor will usually be able to remove it before it becomes cancerous. You should have a colonoscopy every five to 10 years once you hit the age of 50.
African Americans get colorectal cancer more often than other racial/ethnic groups. One study showed that death rates from colorectal cancer are higher in the Harlem area than the national average because less than half the residents showed up for colorectal cancer screening. To bring these death rates down, it is really important for you to talk to your doctor and get a colonoscopy if you are 50 years of age or older!