What you don’t know CAN kill you. Unfortunately, for people at risk for colon cancer, there are an abundance of myths surrounding this disease. Since March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, we thought we would spend some time dispelling the common myths about colon cancer.
Myth #1: Colon cancer is a man’s disease
Truth: Just as many women are diagnosed with it as men.
Myth #2: Colon cancer is not that common
Truth: It’s the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the Unites States. Each year, about 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 die from it.
Myth #3: Colon cancer is not preventable
Truth: It’s totally preventable, all because of a thing call a polyp. These are growths in your colon that, if found early on, can be removed through a medical procedure called a polypectomy. The removal of these growths prevent the cancer from growing later on.
Myth #4: Colon cancer is not treatable
Truth: Just like colorectal cancer is easily preventable, it’s also easily treated. If it’s found and treated early (while it’s small and before it has spread), the 5-year survival rate is about 90%.
Myth #5: African-Americans are not at risk
Truth: Actually, African-Americans are the ethnic group within the U.S. that is most at-risk for colorectal cancer. Scientists aren’t sure what the reason behind this is.
Myth #6: There’s no warning signs
Truth: Certain health conditions could indicate that you are at-risk, and should consider getting tested early. If you have experienced inflammatory bowel disease for 8 to ten years, then you are at-risk for developing colorectal cancer.
Myth #7: Genes do not play a role
Truth: Family history is a very important factor in the risk. If you have an immediate family member who had colon cancer, get screened 10 years before the youngest case in your family. So, if your dad was diagnosed at 35, get yourself screened at the age of 25.
Just remember: screening early and often are the keys to overcoming colon cancer. Talk to your doctor about what steps you should take if you think you are at risk for colon cancer.