March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and because of that, blue is “the color of the month.” The colon cancer awareness ribbon is blue. You might even be encouraged to dress in blue at some point during the month as a way to raise awareness of the disease. While any awareness of colon cancer prevention is beneficial, as a gastroenterologist who has seen his fair share of colon cancer, I’m here to encourage you to do to more than wear blue or pin a blue ribbon on your lapel.
Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide, as well as the third leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the United States. It is estimated that around 135,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease in 2016, and approximately 49,000 will die as a result.
Colon cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer when it is found early. Because many people are not getting tested, only about 4 out of 10 are diagnosed early enough to have successful treatment.
That’s why education about colon cancer prevention and screening is so important. Even more critical, is actually taking the step to get screened. If you’re 50 or older, talk to your physician about the type and frequency of colorectal cancer screening that is right for you. Colonoscopies are often a dreaded word, but the procedure is simple and painless; if normal, it can take less than 15 minutes.
One procedure can literally save your life and that’s why physicians everywhere join me in saying: Get screened! Wear blue; wear whatever color you would like, but please get screened.
Don Heacock, MD, is a local gastroenterologist and is on the medical staff of Coliseum Medical Centers.