March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer, which affects the colon and rectum, is an extremely dangerous disease. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 140,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed each year, while upward of 50,000 individuals die from this preventable disease.1 This form of cancer often begins as small, precancerous growths in the intestine (polyps) that can be easily removed. Treatment in the early stages is generally much more successful than when the cancer is detected at a later stage.
A colonoscopy is a common procedure done to help detect colon cancer and other abnormalities in the large intestine. According to the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC), nearly 15 million colonoscopies were performed in the U.S. in 2012.1
The procedure is recommended for people over age 50, but it may be done in younger patients if they have a personal or family history of disease.2
This test is also done to evaluate a range of lower gastrointestinal symptoms, such as anemia, pain, bleeding, or a change in bowel habits, or for general cancer screening.