Believing colon cancer myths can lead to bad choices for people when it comes to their colon and what can be done to prevent and screen for colorectal cancer. It is important to have the right information so that you can make the best possible choices when it concerns your health. Recent awareness efforts have made significant progress in getting the word out about colon cancer, however some misinformation may still remain. The first step in colon cancer prevention is knowing the truth.
Despite being the third most popular cancer and second leading killer among cancers for both men and women, there is still a lot of false information surrounding colon cancer that needs to be debunked. Let’s examine some of the more popular colon cancer myths and see what the facts really are.
“Colon cancer is an old white man’s disease”
Truth: Colon cancer strikes both women and men with the same frequency and is an equal opportunity cancer. Colon cancer is the second leading killer among cancers for both men and women in the US. More women die from colorectal cancer than from uterine, cervical and ovarian cancers combined. Women, just as much as men, should have regular colonoscopy exams starting at age 50.
Studies have also shown that African-Americans have a greater risk of developing colon cancer and have a higher mortality rate than most. It is recommended that regular screening begin a little earlier and start at age 45.
“I am safe because I don’t have any symptoms”
Truth: Quite often, especially early in its development, colon cancer does not exhibit any symptoms to the patient. It can be a “silent” killer. The fact the you may be symptom-free does not mean that you should skip or avoid having a colonoscopy or other colon cancer screening exam. Sometimes when symptoms do present themselves it might be a sign of advancement of cancer growth. The earlier colon cancer is caught the higher the survival rate and chances for successful treatment. Regular screenings, even when no symptoms are apparent, is crucial.
“It is not preventable, there is nothing I can do.”
Truth: Of all the different cancers, colon cancer is probably the one cancer where patients can have a significant impact in its prevention, most notably concerning colon polyps. The majority of colon polyps found are not cancerous. However, if ignored and left over time, they can develop into colon cancer. Colon polyps can easily be removed during a colonoscopy before they have a chance to turn cancerous. This is why regular screening starting around age 50 is encouraged and recommended.
“I don’t have a family history of colon cancer, so I don’t need to worry about it.”
Truth: Actually, about 75% of newly diagnosed patients do not have a family history of colon cancer. Even if no one in your family has ever had colorectal cancer you are still at risk.
“Being diagnosed with colon cancer means I am going to die.”
Truth: If colon cancer is caught in its early stages, colon cancer treatment has a 5 year survival rate of 90%. It is most definitely not a death sentence to be diagnosed with colon cancer. The key, however, is to catch it early prior to it spreading to other parts of the body. Left to spread, treatment of colon cancer that has metastasized to other areas only has an 11% success rate after 5 years.
Don’t Buy Into Myths
A point of emphasis that everyone should take away from colon cancer is that early detection and regular screening after 50 are crucial. If found in its beginning development, colon cancer is highly treatable and highly survivable. Colonoscopy preparation and a colonoscopy procedure are not the most pleasant experiences to have to go through, but they could just save your life.
If you are in a high risk group, age 50 or over, or you are exhibiting colon cancer symptoms, then it is advised that you consult your doctor and schedule a colonoscopy soon. Don’t believe the colon cancer myths, believe in being proactive in your fight against colon cancer.