How Deadly is Colon Cancer?
In 2022 an estimated 52,580 people will die of colon cancer, making it the second deadliest cancer in the United States. When colon cancer is detected early, the survival rate is 90%, so why is such a curable cancer so deadly? Simply put, screenings.
In 2020 only 40% of people got screened for colon cancer. The problem with this is that colon cancer is sneaky. In the early stages, when survival rates are highest, there are little to no symptoms. By the time symptoms begin to appear, the survival rate has dropped significantly.
Simple Screening Options
At EPIC we know that a colonoscopy is not anyone’s favorite thing to do. That’s why we offer you an alternative that is easier and can be done at home, called the FIT test. This easy-to-use testing kit is available from your provider, is not invasive, and is 80% accurate.
The FIT test is free for anyone over the age of 50, while treatment for colon cancer costs tens of thousands of dollars per month. Imagine being able to screen yourself for the second deadliest cancer by spending 5 minutes in your bathroom. Now you can.
What is Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer is cancer that develops in the colon, which is the final part of your digestive tract. It begins with small clusters of cells, called polyps, forming inside your colon. Over time those polyps can develop into cancer.
When these polyps become cancerous, they produce few or no symptoms. When colon cancer is detected in the early stages, the survival rate is over 90%, and you have multiple options for treatment. This is why yearly screenings are recommended for people over 50 and with increased risk factors.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Symptoms of colon cancer usually don’t start to show until the cancer is more advanced, and treatment options are limited. When colon cancer is diagnosed in the earliest stage the survival rate is over 90%. In the second stage, the survival rate drops to 72%. When colon cancer isn’t diagnosed until after these two stages, the survival rate drops down to 15-17%.
Symptoms of colon cancer include:
- Change in bowel habits (frequent diarrhea or constipation)
- Change in stool consistency
- Blood in stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Frequent stomach cramps and/or gas
- Rectal bleeding
There are a variety of factors that can increase your risk of colon cancer, but many of them are within your control. Some general risk factors include a family or personal history of colon cancer and chronic conditions like Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. Age is another risk factor, which is why yearly colon cancer screenings are recommended for everyone over 50 years old.
Other health conditions that can increase your risk of colon cancer include diabetes and obesity. Taking steps to prevent these conditions or keep them well managed can reduce your risk.
Lifestyle changes can also decrease your risk. Smoking and drinking are both bad habits that can increase your risk of colon cancer and have negative impacts on your overall health. A diet high in fat and low in fiber, and a lack of physical activity are also risk factors within your control.
Overall, a healthy diet, being active, and not smoking can reduce your risk of colon cancer, as well as other cancers and chronic health conditions. When you take care of your body and get your annual colon cancer screening, you help ensure a long and healthy life.
Stay FIT, Stay Safe
You have the power to protect yourself from colon cancer. A simple, at-home test once a year can give you and your provider peace of mind that cancer isn’t lurking in your colon. Take control of your health, and let EPIC help keep you healthy. Schedule a time to pick up your free FIT test and get screened!