Odds are, you are younger than me and you probably don’t have the same family history. But even so, you do need to have colon and rectal cancer on your radar.
There are more than 143,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States each year and, like with so many other cancers, if it is detected late, the prospect of surviving is greatly diminished. Almost 50,000 Americans died from colon or rectal cancer last year.
The other day a new study came out in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that, over a 20-year time period, death from colon and rectal cancer was reduced by over half for people who had the “gold standard” test -- colonoscopy. That’s the less than pleasant test that Katie Couric shared on television after her husband died from colon cancer, saving many lives.
EmpowHER’s Michelle King Robson has also shared her test, through video, after losing a friend who was afraid of the colonoscopy exam and kept putting it off.
I had a follow-up colonoscopy recently. It took me out of work for a day between the test and the recovery from the sedative drugs. But it was well worth it to find out everything was normal. And the three hours of “prep” -- basically colon cleansing -- that happened the night before, was not that big a deal. I just had to stay home.
I’ve had several of these exams because my mother died of colon cancer and my father, now deceased, would develop pre-cancerous polyps that were easily detected and snipped out during colonoscopy.
I was relieved this time that nothing was seen in my case and I don’t have to come back for five years. If I didn’t have a family history the next test would be in ten years.
As I reflect on the prep and the test -- and the new study greatly validating its lifesaving effectiveness -- I urge you to consider this for yourself at age 50, or sooner if you have a family history.
And for your parents or other older loved ones, urge them to be checked. Truly, it could save their life.
Here’s a brief story that illustrates that.