Colorectal cancer is the number two cancer killer in the United States. It is preventable, however. The American Cancer Society reports that less than 50 percent of those over age 50 have been screened.
Colonoscopy is generally the preferred screening procedure. It allows the physician to:
- Examine the entire colon.
- Remove polyps detected during the procedure so the patient doesn’t have to schedule another visit.
- Studies show that regular colonoscopies can prevent 76-90 percent of colon cancer.
Patients with an average risk of colorectal cancer should have their first colonoscopy at age 50 and be screened again every 10 years thereafter. However, family history may increase your risk. Your physician can determine whether you should be tested at an earlier age or more frequently.
Although following your doctor’s recommendations for regular screening is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society also recommends the following:
- Eat a variety of healthy foods, with an emphasis on plant sources
- Eat five or more servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables each day
- Choose whole grains
- Limit consumption of red meat
- Adopt a physically active lifestyle
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption