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Colon Care
Photo: Linda DuBose
When the month of March rolls around, most people think of Spring Break, blooming tulips and daffodils, warmer weather and more sunshine. But something else happens in March—it’s National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. In light of this, consider these awareness facts:
  • Each year more than 50,000 people die from colon cancer.
  • Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death due to cancer for men and women combined. (Lung cancer is the first.)
  • Someone dies from colon cancer every 9.3 minutes.
  • More lives are lost each year to colon cancer than to breast cancer and AIDS combined.
Startling statistics, aren’t they? And the sad fact is that although death from colon cancer is so common, it’s also often very preventable. Here are some lifestyle changes that we can make to lower our chances of getting this disease:

  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Limit fat, especially saturated fat
  • Eat a varied diet to increase the vitamins and minerals you consume
  • Limit alcohol consumption (Many would suggest you stop drinking completely)
  • Stop smoking
  • Stay physically active and maintain a healthy weight
  • Get a colon screening tests at age 50—earlier if you have symptoms or a family history of colon cancer. 2
Surviving a Colonoscopy

Yes, this means a colonoscopy. And although I never thought I’d write about this, I’m here to say that I recently had a colonoscopy and I survived!  The anticipation is actually worse than the event. Two days before your colonoscopy, a doctor will put you on a special diet. And the night before you will drink a laxative to cleanse your colon. The day of your test, you’ll be given a sedative to make you comfortable. A specially trained doctor will then insert a flexible and slender tube with a video camera, which will allow him or her to view your entire colon on a monitor. If polyps are found—a precursor to cancer—they will be removed. This is done through the scope and is painless. It’s likely that when you wake up, you won’t even remember the procedure. I felt like I’d just closed my eyes when the nurse said, “We’re all finished!”

Excuses for not getting a colonoscopy are many: “It’s embarrassing”… “I don’t want to go through the preparation”…. “I don’t want to pay the co pay”…. “I don’t have the time”…. But consider this: it takes ten years or longer for a polyp to become cancerous. I say it’s worth the under 24 hours of prep and procedure time to catch polyps early.

So, if you want to do every thing within your power to keep from getting the number two killer cancer, follow the above lifestyle changes. Get a yearly checkup and follow-through with any medical advice. And if you’re a candidate for a colonoscopy, take a deep breath, call your doctor, and schedule it. If they do find something, you’ll be relieved that it was caught early. And if they don’t find anything, you’ll be even more relieved.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines

1 About.com
2 Mayo Clinic

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