Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States, outside of skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 100,000 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed this year.
Preventive screenings are important for improving the chances of successful treatment. Certain lifestyle changes can also lower one’s chance of disease. By talking to your patients about colon cancer, you can help minimize their risk and ensure the best outcome possible.
Are your patients at risk? The risk factors for colon cancer vary: Some of them – like family history – are out of their control. But many colon cancer risk factors can be addressed by lifestyle changes.
Some lifestyle changes your patients can make include:
- Becoming more active. If they lead a sedentary lifestyle, they’re at a greater risk of colon cancer. Encourage your patients to exercise more, even if that means simple activities like walking.
- Minimizing red meat intake. A diet high in red meats or processed meats has been linked to colon cancer. Talk to your patients about their diet: They may need to limit their intake or replace red meat with heathier proteins like fish and chicken.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is linked to a number of health problems, including colon cancer. AvMed offers smoking cessation resources that can help your patients finally kick the habit.
Colonoscopy is the gold standard for cancer screening. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening starting at age 50 and continuing until age 75. People who are in good health and at a low risk should get a colonoscopy every 10 years; individuals at a higher risk may need more frequent screenings. Talk to your patients about their risks to come up with an appropriate care plan.
For more screening recommendations, visit the official website of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.