Baptist Health Louisville: Screening for Colon Cancer
Colon and rectal surgeon Nechol Allen, MD, advises men and women age 50 and older to get screened for colon cancer. She discusses risk factors and the colonoscopy process.
Screening for Colon Cancer Health Talks Transcript
Nechol Allen, MD
Colon cancer is a tumor or a mass that has developed in the colon or the rectum of abnormal cells. It has undergone a change from a regular cell and has become genetically incorrect and has developed into a tumor. Only a small percentage are hereditary, less than 5 percent, actually. Colon cancer right now is second in the nation for cancers. It affects men and women both, and it’s non-discriminatory, so everyone should be screened starting at 50. Other risk factors for colon cancer are people who smoke and people who are overweight. It’s been found that people who have high red meat diets and low fiber tend to have more incidents of colon cancer. There are lots of different ways to screen for colon cancer. The gold standard has been colonoscopy. The actual colonoscopy is painless, and you’re having sedatives during the procedure, so you really go into a nice sleep. You have the procedure done, and you wake up in 20 minutes, and it’s over. The advantages of getting in and getting screened early are that colon cancer is very treatable. If caught early, the success rate for treatment is over 90 percent, so that’s why we encourage people to come in at 50 if they’re average risk and get screened, because this is very curable.