The importance of getting screened for colon cancer

For Your Health

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Actor Chadwick Boseman lost his four year battle with colon cancer on Friday, putting a new spotlight on the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

Dr. Amit Trehan, director of endoscopy at Amarillo Endoscopy Center said that average-risk patients start screening at age 50, and those who have a family history or a history of inflammatory bowel disease or polyposis will start screening at a younger age.

Dr. Trehan said that African-Americans have a higher case rate of colon cancer than any other ethnicity and have a higher mortality rate than Caucasians.

“Afro-Americans are at a higher risk at getting CRC at a younger age and a very aggressive disease in those patients,” said Dr. Trehan.

Dr. Izi Obokhare, associate professor of surgery at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center said the first step should be reaching out to your primary care doctor

“When you visit your doctor, talk with them, discuss with them, let them know you noticed a change in your bowel habits because, at the age of 35, I’ve seen colon cancer, as young as the age of 18 or 16. The age doesn’t really tell you if you have it or not, but the symptoms are what you look out for,” said Dr. Obokhare.

Dr. Obokhare said that if someone has colon cancer at the age of 40, their siblings and family members need to get screened 10 years before that age.

Dr. Obokhare said that if colon cancer is caught at an early stage, 90% of people are still alive after five years, but if you are diagnosed at a later stage that number drops to 10%.

Both doctors said that colon cancer is preventable and that getting screened early is the best way to protect yourself.

Dr. Obokhare said the impact that Boseman left is immense and his fight might help others go get screened.

“He affected a lot of lives in a positive way and I think with his death, he still has an impact on a lot of people as well by leaving the message of colon cancer screening is very important,” said Dr. Obokhare.

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