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16:00 PM

Medical Minute: Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and as we see an increase in colorectal cancer diagnoses in younger individuals, it’s time to start being proactive.

“Colon cancer is common,” said William Main, DO, colon and rectal surgeon with OhioHealth. “It’s the third most commonly diagnosed cancer here in the United States.”

Screenings are key for detecting colon cancer in its early stages, especially for those with a family history or predisposing factors.

“Patients who have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps may need to get screened at a younger age, and they should discuss that with their primary care provider,” Dr. Main said.

Traditionally recommended at the age of 50, screening guidelines for average-risk patients have recently shifted to 45 due to the increasing prevalence in young people within the last several years. More than 100,000 patients in the U.S. are given a colon cancer diagnosis every year and around 18,000 of these individuals are younger than 50.

“There are a lot of screening options,” Dr. Main said. “Colonoscopy is the gold standard, and that’s an outpatient procedure that requires a bowel preparation and some sedation.”

This exam can reveal problem areas and identify changes in the colon earlier than ever before. Enhanced imaging technology, new tools, and effective medications now make it possible to remove polyps that were once impossible to remove.

“There are some tests that can be done at home like Cologuard or FIT,” Dr. Main added.

In an interview with anchor Rachel Ramsey of NBC4, William Wise, MD, colon and rectal surgeon with OhioHealth, attributed the decreased screening age to various lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking, and obesity.

But even individuals in good health can be affected.

“Think Chadwick Boseman,” Dr. Wise said. “Not exactly the picture of poor health … who died at 43 of colon cancer.”

Bleeding, changes in bowel habits, or the sensation of incomplete bowel movements, “those are the most common symptoms that people need to pay attention to and not ignore in conversations with their families and physicians,” Dr. Wise said.

To schedule a screening or learn more about OhioHealth’s colorectal cancer care, click here.

To learn more about screening options, click here.

Click the NBC4 logo below to view their story with Dr. Wise. 

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