Turning 50? Time to get screened for colon cancer


March 12th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Iowans who are hitting the half-century mark this year also need to make an appointment to talk with their doctor about a colonoscopy. Chuck Reed, spokesman for the Iowa office of the American Cancer Society, says March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and it’s a wise move to get screened. “Far too many people die from colon cancer,” Reed says. “The truth is, it’s almost unnecessary because if colon cancer is caught early, you stay up to date with your screenings, you talk to your doctor, there’s a tremendous survival rate. To die from colon cancer is really an unnecessary death if you stay on top of your health.” This year, it’s estimated nearly 17-hundred Iowans will be diagnosed with colon cancer and 590 will die from it. Reed said Iowans are responding by getting checkups.

“We’ve seen the rate for colon cancer deaths decline because screenings have become better and more people are getting their screenings,” Reed says. “Not as many as we’d hoped but more and more people are talking to their doctors, getting that colonoscopy at 50, using the other tests that are available.” One factor you can’t control is your family history, which Reed says may mean you’ll have to be screened earlier than age 50.

“If you have a family history, a mom, dad, sibling, uncle, whatever, who’s had colon cancer, had the polyps, you need to be checked relatively quickly,” he says. “That could be before 50 and that’s why you need to talk to your doctor.” Learn more about colon cancer at 800-227-2345 or at “www.cancer.org”. 

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)