DENVER – March is national Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths, and this year in Colorado, about 1900 new cases will be diagnosed, with more than 600 deaths expected. Colon cancer is very treatable when caught early.
According to Holly Wolf, director of the Colorado Colorectal Screening Program, they want people to be mindful of the threat from colon cancer.
“In our lifetime, one out of every 18 of us, if we don’t get screened, is going to get colon cancer,” she asserted. “That’s greater odds than I’m interested in.”
Wolf said the biggest risk factor is age; as we get older, we develop polyps in the colon which can turn into cancer if not removed. She described the colonoscopy as a type of cancer-preventer, because it can catch the polyps before they become malignant.
She declared that they want to increase screening rates to 80 percent among all Coloradans aged 50 and older, and especially help low-income and uninsured Coloradans get colonoscopies.
“Those people, typically, are screened at a substantially lower rate,” Wolf observed. “Right now, 36 percent have been screened. In order to get that up to 80 percent of that population, we’ve got a long ways to go.”
Wolf noted that many people avoid screenings because of cost and fear. She says it is easier than most people think.
“Yes, the preparation is horrid: cleaning the bowels is literally a pain in the butt. But, it’s worth it in terms of taking care of yourself and taking care of your family.”
And, she added, once you’re screened, you won’t need another colonoscopy for another decade.
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