June 10-16, 2024, is Men’s Health Week! It’s a great time for men to prioritize their health and seek preventive care such as colon cancer screening.

The Rising Incidence in Younger Men

In recent years, the incidence of colon cancer in men under 50 has been rising. According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is now the leading cause of cancer deaths in men under 50.

The Benefits of Early Screening

“Early screening for colon cancer can save lives,” says Dr. Abdul Bhutta. “Screening tests can detect precancerous polyps, which can be removed before they turn into cancer.” 

Colon cancer found early through screening is more likely to be treatable and curable. The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45, but those with a family history or other risk factors may need to start even earlier.

Breaking the Stigma and Fear

One of the barriers to early screening is the stigma and fear associated with colonoscopies, the gold standard for detecting colon cancer. “There is a lot of unnecessary fear surrounding colonoscopies,” explains Dr. David Fitch. “More than 15 million Americans undergo colonoscopies every year. Patients are usually sedated, so it’s like taking a short nap. The procedure itself is well tolerated, and recovery time is minimal.”

Colon Prep Tips

In the past, patients had limited options for colonoscopy prep. To clean out their colons, most were asked to drink almost a gallon of a laxative solution the night before the procedure.

Today there are a variety of prep solutions to choose from. “Preps are never fun, but the taste of the preps has improved significantly, and the volume of prep needed is much less than previously required,” explains Dr. Arunan Vamadevan.  

“There are many different prep options, including a pill-based prep. Your doctor will work with you to find the best prep for your situation.”

The Bottom Line 

It is recommended that men aged 45 and older begin regular colon cancer screening. Always talk to your doctor promptly about any worrisome symptoms. When detected early, colorectal cancer is often treatable and beatable. 

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Tags Colorectal (Colon) Cancer, Colonoscopy

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