In recognition of Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, Sarah Bush Lincoln is giving away re-usable grocery bags at area grocery stores on March 17. The bags are intended to remind people to eat more fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy colon, and to encourage those 50 years and older to talk to their doctor about a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer.
The bags will be distributed to shoppers while supplies last at County Market stores in Mattoon and Charleston and IGA stores in Arthur, Casey and Neoga, as well as to patients at the SBL Gastroenterology Clinic throughout the month of March.
Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) is the second leading cancer killer among men and women in the U.S. (after lung cancer). And yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 60 percent of these deaths could have been prevented with regular screenings.
Colorectal cancer screening saves lives. However, many people who are at risk for the disease are not being screened according to national guidelines. Many people are afraid of the procedure, but there’s really no reason to be SBL Gastroenterologist Alexis Ayonote, MD, said. “It’s well worth the time and any possible inconvenience to have the screening. Too many people think ‘I’m healthy so I don’t need to do anything.’ The message is don’t wait until you’re sick and having symptoms to be screened. Colorectal cancer is a very preventable disease,” he said.
In its early stages, colorectal cancer has no symptoms. By the time people notice bleeding, bowel changes and bloating, it’s often too late, Dr. Ayonote said. Routine screening could save an estimated 30,000 lives each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
All adults are at risk for colorectal cancer, even those that live healthy life styles. In most cases, colorectal cancer develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.
Some studies show that increased physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight may decrease the risk for colorectal cancer. Currently, there is no consensus on the role of diet in preventing colorectal cancer, but medical experts recommend a diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products to reduce the risk of other chronic diseases, such as coronary artery disease and diabetes. However, the most effective way to reduce your risk is by having regular colorectal cancer screening tests beginning at age 50.
While other screening tests are available, colonoscopy is considered the gold standard. Dr. Ayonote said he has performed thousands of these lifesaving screening since coming to Sarah Bush Lincoln eight years ago. He practices with SBL Gastroenterologist James Van Popering, who also performs colonoscopies.
To schedule an appointment with either Dr. Ayonote or Dr. Van Popering or to learn more about colonoscopy and other services provided by the Gastroenterology and Special Procedures Department, call (217) 258- or 348-4155.