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According to the American Cancer Society, excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the US. Women are nearly as likely as men to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
Most colorectal cancers start as benign polyps or growths that occur on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Some polyps can become cancer over the course of many years. The cancer can then spread through the colon wall into blood or lymph vessels, allowing it to travel to various parts of the body.
Because colorectal cancers can grow fairly slowly, the best safety measure to protect oneself is a colonoscopy, usually at age 50. A colonoscopy, which can be completed by a general surgeon, allows the doctor to look for polyps or other potential warning signs of cancer.
While most women are religious about scheduling annual or semi-annual preventative exams like mammograms and pap smears, they aren’t so good about colonoscopies. The top myths among women include:
Myth 1: Colorectal cancer is a “man’s disease.” Women sometimes believe they are less likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, which is untrue. American Cancer Society research indicates the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 4.49 percent for men and 4.15 percent in women.
Myth 2: Breast, cervical, uterine or ovarian cancers are more of a threat than colorectal cancer.
Health of the entire body is important. All screening exams should be treated equally.
Myth 3: Colonoscopies are painful and gross. In general, colonoscopies are not and should not be a bad experience.
If you are age 50 or older and have not had a colonoscopy, or if a medical provider has recommended a colonoscopy due to your family history, contact Physicians' Clinic of Iowa at (319) 362-5118 to schedule yours today!