SAN DIEGO — March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, a time to educate people about the importance of routine screening. The American Cancer Society reports an estimated 153,000 cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed this year. With a troubling rise in colon cancer among younger ages, colon cancer continues to be a concern. Dr. Maram Zakko, Gastroenterologist with Palomar Health, joins our Laura Cavanaugh to talk about early signs, risk factors and what you can start doing today to prevent colon cancer.
“Only one out of four patients with colon cancer have a family history,” said Dr. Zakko.
More doctors are diagnosing colon cancer in patients who are increasingly younger, many between the ages of 40 and 50. That’s why routine cancer screening remains a powerful tool.
“Screening for colon cancer is very effective. It prevents almost all colon cancer if you do it right,” said Zakko.
The gold standard for colon cancer prevention is a colonoscopy starting at age 45. Higher risk patients should have that screening earlier. Other modalities include stool testing for blood or DNA, as well as a special CT scan.
The good news is colon cancer is highly preventable. Risk factors associated with colon cancer that can be corrected are obesity, diabetes, smoking, diet, consumption of processed meat, excessive drinking and a sedentary lifestyle.
Zakko says you can start being proactive today by reducing your risk factors by exercising more, consuming vegetables, eating a high fiber diet, as well as reducing red meats and processed meats.
The hopeful news is that colon cancer is treatable, especially when caught early.
“When caught early, most of the time it’s curable,” said Zakko. “When caught advanced, new technology and new treatments can get the patient to live many years compared to previously.”
Talk to your doctor about options for early detection and prevention.
To schedule your screening and for more information, visit www.palomarhealth.org
Sponsored by: Palomar Health