Nearly 100,000 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2017, according to American Cancer Society estimates.
About 50,000 people will die of colon cancer in the U.S. this year.
Truth is, colon cancer can sometimes be prevented. Know the facts so you understand the truth about colon cancer. In honor of Colon Cancer Awareness month in March, here are four colon cancer myths, debunked.
Myth: Genetics determine risk
More than half of colon cancer cases cannot be traced back to a specific cause, according to TriHealth Digestive Institute. A genetic predisposition to colon cancer is important to note, but it’s not the only risk factor. Other risk factors include:
- Eating a high-fat diet
- Prolonged consumption of red and processed meat
- Being overweight
- Heavy alcohol use
“Several lifestyle-related factors have been linked to colorectal cancer,” according to cancer.org. “In fact, the links between diet, weight, and exercise and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer.”
Use this tool to help determine whether you have a genetic predisposition for colon cancer.
Myth: Women don’t get colon cancer
Although slightly more common in men (1 in 21 will develop the disease in his lifetime), women have almost the same risk of developing colon cancer (1 in 23), according to the American Cancer Society. The only types of cancer diagnosed more often in women are breast and lung cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
No matter your gender, the American Cancer Society recommends everyone be screened for colon cancer starting at age 50, repeating various screening tests regularly thereafter. Those at high risk for colon cancer should be screened earlier and more often. Talk with your doctor about the most appropriate schedule and screenings.
Myth: Colon cancer is a death sentence
As with most types of cancer, colon cancer advances in stages. The earlier it’s caught, the more likely it is treatable. The American Cancer Society says people with stage I colon cancer have a 92 percent five-year relative survival rate, which compares closely to the survival rates of people without the cancer.
“For example, if the five-year relative survival rate for a specific type and stage of cancer is 90 percent, it means that people who have that cancer are, on average, about 90 percent as likely as people who don’t have that cancer to live for at least five years after being diagnosed,” according to cancer.org.
However, the American Cancer Society says even people with stage IV colon cancer often have several treatment options. So, if you’ve been procrastinating, now is a good time to schedule a screening.
Myth: Colon cancer is for old people
Although colon cancer rates have been decreasing, thanks to people getting screened more often than in the past, a 2017 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows colon cancer rates in young people have increased.
Specifically, people born around 1990 are twice as likely to get colon cancer as people born around 1950, and four times as likely to get rectal cancer, the study found.
The researchers recommend people should consider being screened before age 50. It’s also a good idea to know the signs and symptoms of colon cancer.
No matter your age, TriHealth Digestive Institute has a team of dedicated experts in diagnosis and treatment of colorectal disorders, from colon cancer to hemorrhoids. Don’t put off getting that colonoscopy or having a discussion with a doctor, especially if you’ve experienced any symptoms.