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The Myths and Truth Behind Colorectal Cancer
General Wellness

The Myths and Truth Behind Colorectal Cancer

By Your Health Staff
Posted: March 9, 2023

Colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in the United States, affecting men and women of all ages and ethnicities. It can be a deadly disease, but the good news is that with early detection and treatment, it is also one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer. We are debunking some common myths surrounding colorectal cancer and providing you with the truth to help you make informed decisions about your health.   

Dr. Paul Johnson, a surgical oncologist with Methodist Cancer Institute, answered the following questions regarding colorectal cancer. 

When Should People Get Screened for Colon and Rectal Cancer? 

The American Cancer Society recommends that everyone age 45 and older should be screened for colorectal cancer every 10 years unless a colorectal surgeon or gastroenterologist suggests otherwise. Individuals with a family history of colon or rectal cancer may need to be screened earlier and more frequently. The earlier colorectal cancer is detected, the greater the chances are for successful treatment. 

Why is Early Detection so Important? 

Early detection of colorectal cancer is critical and literally can save your life. A colonoscopy detects abnormal tissue growth or polyps, and those polyps can often be removed during the procedure. Polyp removal can happen before they turn cancerous or to prevent cancer from spreading. Screening also helps identify cancer in its early stages, when it is most treatable and can often be cured. 

What’s Better – Using an At-Home Kit or Undergoing a Colonoscopy? 

The best test is the one that gets done. Certainly, a colonoscopy is the preferred standard for testing, but there is a benefit to at-home or FIT tests. An at-home test may be a good option for individuals who are at average risk for colon cancer and are hesitant to undergo a colonoscopy. However, a colonoscopy provides a more thorough examination of the colon and allows for the removal of polyps during the procedure. Ultimately, the decision on which test to take should be made in consultation with your doctor. 


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Has Colonoscopy Prep Changed? 

Yes, colonoscopy prep has changed significantly. Prep is now much more tolerable – it’s smaller amounts of prep solutions over a shorter amount of time. There’s even a pill option. For a colonoscopy, the colon needs to be as clear as possible to see any abnormalities.  

One Myth to Address Regarding Colorectal Cancer Screening? 

One common myth is that colorectal cancer only affects older, white men. That is not the case at all. Black men and women have the highest risk of developing and dying from colon cancer. Colorectal cancer does not discriminate. Everyone should get screened for colon cancer starting at age 45, or earlier if they have a family history. 

What are the Risk Factors and Symptoms? 

Common risk factors for colorectal cancer include having a family history of colon cancer, having inflammatory bowel disease, lack of regular physical activity, a diet high in processed foods and red meats but low in fruits and vegetables, being overweight, alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Common symptoms to watch for include a change in bowel habits, blood in your stool, diarrhea, constipation or feeling that your bowel does not empty all the way, abdominal pain that doesn’t go away and unintentional weight loss. Colorectal cancer often doesn’t have symptoms until later stages in the disease process, which makes it even more important to get screened early.  

Check Your Colon Health Today! 

If you are over 45 or have a family history of colon cancer, it’s time to get screened. Do not let fear or myths prevent you from taking control of your health. Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician today to discuss your screening options. Remember, early detection saves lives! 

Talk to your doctor about your risk of colorectal cancer.

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