Colon health. It’s an uncomfortable conversation to have with a loved
one, let alone a doctor, but talking about it and getting screened could
just save your life.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the U.S., affecting
both men and women. It’s also one of the most treatable cancers
when detected early. If every person 50 years or older had regular screenings,
at least 80 percent of these deaths would be avoidable.
The colon (large intestine) is the organ that helps digest our foods and
prepare waste for elimination. Everything we do, including how active
and healthy we are, affects our colon. When your bowels aren’t functioning
properly, this can lead to structural damage to the colon and many other
digestive disorders: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS); inflammatory bowel
diseases (like Crohn's and ulcerative colitis); GERD (heartburn);
Celiac disease; hemorrhoids; pancreatitis; acid reflux and ulcers.
Dr. Young Lee, gastroenterologist for Cortland Regional Medical Center,
sees these problems every day. “Colon health is very important and
something we can take control of before it’s too late. I can’t
stress enough the importance of screenings for early detection,”
says Lee, “This is when we often find polyps which can be precancerous.
Early detection allows us to remove them and prevent them from becoming
a future health risk.”
Lee recommends regular colon cancer screenings beginning at age 50, and
to start at age 45 if you are African-American, “That’s the
age at which your risk starts increasing,” he says. If colon cancer
runs in your family, talk to your doctor about screening earlier. “The
screening itself is relatively quick and pain free because we use an anesthetic,“ says Lee.
Family history and unavoidable factors like age and family history can
play a role in your risk for getting colon cancer. However, there are
many factors you
can control like diet, physical exercise, and quitting smoking.
Dr. Lee advises moderately intense exercise for 30 minutes a day (a walk
or a bike ride) to help help you feel better, decrease your stress, and
manage your weight. You should also work more fruits, vegetables, and
whole grains (including water-soluble fiber) into your diet. Limit red
meat and alcohol as well as foods which are high in fat or processed.
And not enough can be said increasing your overall health by quitting
smoking. Smokers are more at risk for developing cancers like colon cancer.
Making healthy lifestyle changes can be challenging, and it helps to have
support. Let Cortland Regional be a part of your healthcare team. Our
experienced gastroenterology staff and supporting reosurces are here to
help you have a pain-free screening experience, and to put you on the
path to a healthier you.
(607) 756 -9470
Dr. Young Lee & Dr. Adam Moskowitz
Nutrition Services Department: (607) 428-5087
Respiratory Care Department: (607) 756-3807
Walk With A Doc: Second Monday of each month, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.,
JM McDonald Complex