Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Lives

03/15/2017

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.”

Screening
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.

Healthier Lifestyle
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.

Gastroenterology Department
(607) 756 -9470
Dr. Young Lee & Dr. Adam Moskowitz

Nutritional Education
Nutrition Services Department:  (607) 428-5087

Smoking Cessation
Respiratory Care Department: (607) 756-3807

Fitness
Walk With A Doc: Second Monday of each month, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., JM McDonald Complex