The second-most deadly cancer in the nation is very preventable, according to doctors. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and colon screenings are the number one way to prevent colon cancer.
“Early detection with colon cancer is important because colon cancer is such a preventable, treatable and beatable cancer.” said Lindsay Kowalski of the American Cancer Society.
According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 140,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2014, including 240 Wyoming residents.
“The majority of colon cancer can be prevented by getting colonoscopies.” said Dr. Jeffrey Cloud, Board Certified Gastroenterologist. “We're able to take off these benign colon polyps and prevent them from later on turning into colon cancer.”
More than 90 percent of cases are diagnosed in people 50 and over. Doctors recommend men and women at 50 need to start getting screenings every 10 years.
“If you have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps then we may recommend that we start even earlier at age 40 or do it more frequently, say every five years.” Said Cloud
Dr. Cloud says he finds polyps in nearly 50 percent of those screened, but still only around 50 percent of people over the age of 50 in Wyoming choose to be screened.
“So there's a significant chunk of the population that is not getting that ability to prevent colon cancer and sometimes we are still seeing colon cancers and sometimes we find them in advance stages, where not much can be done about them where as with a colonoscopy we can prevent it in the first case.” said Cloud.
Cloud says the procedure itself is fairly easy and the patient is asleep for the duration. He says most of the complaints come from drinking a bitter tasting laxative the night before. “Most people afterwards think that was no big deal.”