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|Mini Brochure | For Physicians
Common Colorectal Problems
Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States (trailing only lung cancer) and results in almost 60,000 deaths in the US each year. In fact, for those who do not smoke, colon cancer (image of colon cancer shown below) poses a greater risk of causing death than any other malignancy.
More than 90% of colon cancer deaths could be preventable with timely removal of precancerous polyps. Approximately one in three people who develop colorectal cancer die of this disease.
Who is at risk?
The simple answer is everyone. Recent studies show that 6% of the US population (more than 1 in 16) will develop colon cancer, with both man and woman being at equal risk. The risk of colon cancer (image shown to left) increases with age, occurring most often in people over 50. This risk is even greater and those who have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps. Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease are also at increased risk.
Can it be prevented?
Absolutely! Colon cancer begins as polyps which grow slowly over several years before developing into cancer. This provides a "window of opportunity" in which polyps can be removed before they become malignant or cancerous. Several studies have proved that the removal of these polyps can decrease or virtually eliminate the chances of developing cancer in the future. Screening test can also detect colon cancer early while the chances of cure are greater.
Who should be screened?
Everyone 50 or over. Anyone age 40 or over that has had a parent or sibling with colon cancer or polyps. Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease should discuss appropriate screening intervals with their physician.
What screening tests are available?
Several test may be used to screen for colon cancer including:
Most authorities agreed that the most complete and thorough screening method is colonoscopy, which has a unique advance of being the only test which is both diagnostic and therapeutic. In other words if polyps or tumors are found during the exam they can be removed or biopsied at the same time. Getting screened could save your life.
Patient experience has shown that:
Over 90% of colon cancer deaths can be prevented with appropriate screening and timely removal of precancerous polyps. In fact, it is one of the few types of cancer that can actually be prevented, which makes it all the more important to consider your risk for the disease and take steps to be tested at the appropriate time.
Will colon cancer screening be covered by my insurance?
In Texas, the screening should be covered thanks to Bill SB1467, which mandated that insurance companies cover the cost of screening for patients off average risk over the age of 50 (high-risk patients were already covered). Medicare patients are also covered for screening exams.
What are the symptoms?
The most frequent answer is none. Colon cancer usually does not cause any symptoms until has become quite advanced which is why screening tests are so important.By the time symptoms develop, treatment may be more difficult. You should notify your physician if you notice any of the following:
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