Medical Professionals Getting Word Out About Preventing Colorectal Cancer

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.


Bethesda, Md (KM) It displays no symptoms, but it can be deadly if not detected in time. We’re talking about colorectal cancer. “Colon Cancer is the number-two cancer killer in America, and it’s largely preventable,” says Dr. Patrick Young, a gastroenterlologist with the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.

There will be over 145,000 diagnoses for colorectal cancer in the United States in 2019. “The lifetime risk for colorectal in the United States is one in 23 if you;re a man, and it’s one and 25 for a woman,” says Dr. Young. “African-American are particularly at risk so it’s starts earlier in African-Americans which is why we start screening at age 45. And also the mortality rate is higher in African-Americans.”

He says it’s important for all adults to undergo colonoscopies when they reach 50, and by 45-years of age if they’re African-Americans. That process can detect and remove pre-cancerous polyps. “Unlike a lot cancers, like breast cancer and a lot of other things where we’re really looking for in other cancers, colonscopy, as a screening, can prevent up to 90% of colon cancer deaths,” says Dr. Young.

Of the more than 51,000 people expected to die of colorectal cancer this year, screening could have prevented more than half of them, he says.

Dr. Young also says most insurance plans will pay for coloscopies. “So for people who are 65 and older, Medicare covers all those costs. For people with commercial insurance, as long as you’re doing the test in accordance with the guidelines–like the American College of Gastroenterology has put out–that gets paid for. For people without insurance, there are safety net hospitals and things like that.”

The American College of Gastroenterology recommends patients have the colonoscopy every ten years.

Removing cancerous polyps not only reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, it also decreases the number of deaths from this disease by 53%, according to the National Polyp Survey.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.


By Kevin McManus