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Know the facts about colon cancer—it could save your life

(NewsUSA) – Colon cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United Sates, yet it is a preventable and treatable disease if diagnosed in its early stages.

As a cancer that almost always develops from abnormal growths, called polyps, in the colon or rectum, screening through a method known as a colonoscopy saves lives by detecting and removing the polyps before they become cancerous.

In celebration of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy is dispelling the myths so you have the facts about colon cancer.

Myth: Colon cancer only affects men.

According to Dr. Grace Elta, president of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, colon cancer affects both men and women. More than 26,000 women die every year from colon cancer. A more reliable indicator is actually age. In fact, your age is the single most important risk factor. As a result, both men and women should undergo testing for the disease starting at age 50. For individuals 65 and older, Medicare will cover the cost of colonoscopy screening. Still not convinced? A 2007 study showed a 5 percent drop in colon cancer deaths per year, and prevention was among the key factors credited for the decline. So, talk to your doctor about your screening options.

Myth: You don’t need to be screened for colon cancer if you feel fine.

Usually there are no symptoms to rely on. When there are symptoms, the cancer may be at an advanced stage. When colon cancer is caught early, most people can be cured. If, however, warning signs are present, they may include: blood in stools, a change in the pattern or frequency of bowel movements, abdominal pain or unexplained weight loss. While these symptoms may be caused by other benign conditions, you should consult your doctor.

Myth: You don’t need to get screened if there is no family history of colon cancer.

Most people with colon cancer do not have a family member with the disease. In fact, only 10 to 20 percent of people who have colon cancer have a family member who has also had it.

To learn more about the disease or to find a qualified physician in your area, visit www.screen4coloncancer.org.

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