Health officials stress importance of routine colorectal cancer screenings

Health officials stress importance of routine colorectal cancer screenings

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The message is prevention as March marks National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

This year, an estimated 95,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer and an additional 40,000 will be diagnosed with rectal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Unfortunately, the mortality rate is still high about 50,000 people will die from colon cancer throughout the country this year,” said Dr. Amrit Singh, a Mayo Health Clinic System oncologist.

While colonoscopies are the traditional form of screening, an alternative at home test is available.

“Many patients do not like to go in for colonoscopies. So, we do have a test called cologuard test, which is a test for cancer DNA in the feces. If that test is positive, they will need to go in for a colonoscopy. But alternates for screening are available,” Singh added.

Due to an increase in colon and rectal cancers in younger patients, the American Cancer Society now recommends that screenings begin at age 45, instead of 50.

Singh also adds that if a family member has had colon cancer, then other family members should start screening 10 years earlier than the age the family member was when they were diagnosed.

“If a family member had colon cancer at age 50, you should start screening at age 40,” Singh stated.

Professionals from the Mayo Clinic Health System also say a healthy lifestyle can help lower your risk for colon cancer.

They suggest exercising, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, drink alcohol in moderation and quit smoking.

The Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center and medical center will be lighted blue during the week of March 9-13 in recognition of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

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