One in every 20 Americans will develop colon cancer. The risk for colon cancer is affected by age, family history, diet, and activity level, but it is also influenced by heredity. African Americans are at increased risk for colon cancer compared with other racial and ethnic groups within the United States.
Why is There a Disparity in the Risk for Colon Cancer?
Studies reveal that the higher incidence of colon cancer in African Americans is likely due to factors such as reduced access to healthcare and insurance and limited knowledge regarding the benefits of screening. African Americans are less likely to get a colonoscopy and to be treated for colon cancer than other racial groups. Because of this, colon cancer rates are 25 percent higher and mortality rates are 50 percent higher in African Americans compared with Caucasians.
When to get Screened for Colon Cancer
In 2005, The American College of Gastroenterology published new guidelines stating that colon cancer screening of African Americans should begin at age 45 due to statistics regarding incidence and survival. Most adults who are at average risk for colon cancer should get screened for colon cancer at age 50, but family history or personal history of polyps or colon cancer could also affect screening age.
Colonoscopy Offers the Best Protection Against Colon Cancer
Colonoscopy is the gold standard for colon cancer screening because it can detect and remove growths called polyps before they become cancerous. Other types of screenings such as fecal occult blood tests or double contrast barium enemas are designed only to detect cancer. A colonoscopy is the only screening that can both detect and prevent colon cancer.
You Can Affect Your Colon Cancer Risk
The most effective way to reduce your risk of colon cancer is to make colon-healthy choices every day like avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol, eating a high-fiber and low-fat diet, and being physically active. With routine screening, nutritious diet and regular exercise, colon cancer incidence and mortality can decrease significantly. So take steps to reduce your chance of colon cancer today.