Colorectal Cancer: Why Screening Counts

This potentially deadly disease can be thwarted with regular screenings. The proof is in the numbers.
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IF YOU WANT YOUR CAR TO LAST, YOU HAVE TO TAKE care of it. The same is true of your body, says Mark Gilder, M.D., a colorectal surgeon at Saint Barnabas Medical Center and a member of the Barnabas Health Medical Group. “You have regular service performed on your car,” he says. “Well, colon cancer screening is one of the services you have to have done on you.”

Colonoscopy, which he calls “the gold standard” of colorectal cancer screening, is safe and effective in finding and treating polyps—precancerous growths—early, before they can cause harm. “When you can actually prevent the disease from happening with a test as beneficial and specific as colonoscopy, we all need to take advantage of it,” he says.

If you’re 45 or older and you haven’t had a colonoscopy in the past decade, call to schedule one today. If you need more reasons why, take a look at the numbers.

RWJBarnabas Health and Saint Barnabas Medical Center, in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey—the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, bring a world-class team of researchers and specialists to fight alongside you, providing close-to-home access to the latest treatment and clinical trials.

That’s the proportion of colorectal cancer deaths that could be prevented with screening, says Fight Colon Cancer

That’s the age colorectal cancer screening should begin, according to the American Cancer Society. However, if you have a first-degree relative—parent or sibling—who has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, it is recommended that you begin screening 10 years before the age when that person was diagnosed. If your father got colorectal cancer at 53, for example, you should get your first screening at 43.

This is the approximate five-year survival rate for people whose colorectal cancer is treated at stage 1, before it has spread, according to the ACS. Once the cancer has spread to distant organs (such as the liver or lungs), the rate becomes less than 15 percent. That’s why early detection is so important.

Colorectal cancer rates among people younger than 50 continue to rise, increasing by 22 percent from 2000 to 2013. The ACS says that the reasons for the increase have yet to be confirmed, but factors that may be behind this rise include increasing rates of excess body weight brought on by unhealthy eating habits and leading a sedentary lifestyle.

This is the number of symptoms many people experience in the early stages of the disease. Most colorectal cancers start as a growth on the inner lining of the colon or rectum called a polyp. Some polyps can change into cancer over time—usually over many years—but many polyps never become cancerous. Polyps may cause no symptoms at first, which is why screening is so important. Screening with a colonoscopy not only detects the polyps, it allows the doctor to remove them before they develop into cancer.  

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