Taking care of your health is important at all ages, but it’s especially important as we get older because the risks of conditions like cancer and heart disease increases along with our age. Screening tests have played a crucial role in the last few decades of helping to reduce mortality rates associated with certain health conditions, and one such screening test is a colonoscopy. Below, we take a look at why this screening exam is beneficial for anyone over the age of 50.
Why Get A Colon Cancer Screening?
The answer to the above question may seem obvious, but there’a more to a screening exam than simply catching cancer. Besides the clear reason that screening is beneficial to identify colon cancer, a colonoscopy is beneficial for two additional reasons.
- Early Identification – For the majority of health conditions, the sooner the problem is identified and treated, the higher the likelihood of treatment success, and colon cancer is no different. If colon cancer is identified at an early stage when it is still localized to the colon, the five-year survival rate is about 90 percent. If the cancer has spread to surrounding lymph nodes or other organs, the five-year survival rate drops about 20 percent, and it only keeps on dropping as the cancer progresses to more serious stages. The evidence is clear – early detection saves lives by identifying cancers when they are more easily treatable.
- Spotting Potential Problems – Screening doesn’t just identify colorectal cancer, it also spots potential issues before they become a problem. Similar to how a dentist can spot bone decay in your teeth before it becomes an outright cavity, your gastroenterologist can detect what are known as premalignant polyps that may be developing in your colon. These growths are not yet cancerous, but they have the potential to become cancerous in a short period of time. By identifying and treating them before they become malignant, you can stop colorectal cancer in its tracks before it has a chance to develop. As you can imagine, treating potential cancer in this stage is even more successful than treating cancerous growths at their earliest stage.
So not only can a colonoscopy identify cancer, it can do so at a sooner interval so that treatment success is higher, and it can identify potential problems before they have a chance to develop. Screenings are a wonderful tool in decreasing deaths caused by colorectal cancer, so make sure you get screenings at the appropriate 5-10 year intervals based on your age. You can learn more about how often you should get a colonoscopy by clicking here.
If you are overdue for a colonoscopy, put your health first and schedule one with our clinic today. For answers to any questions you might have, or to talk to a specialist about scheduling your appointment, give our team a call today at (952) 368-3800.