HIBBING — Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer death.
However, through screening, it is one of the most preventable diseases.
In February 2000, Pres. Bill Clinton officially declared March as National Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
The idea behind Colon Cancer Awareness Month is to both honor and remember loved ones who have fought colon cancer and to make sure people know that there are multiple screenings available to detect colon cancer before it becomes life threatening, according to the Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA).
Colon cancer is most often found in people 50 years or older, but is currently on the rise in younger groups, states the CCA.
Family history also has a significant impact on one’s risk. The CCA points out that people with a first-degree relative who has colon cancer are two to three times more likely to develop the disease.
Screening is the No. 1 way to reduce your risk of colon cancer — despite its high rate of incidence.
There are three main ways to screen for colon cancer. These include: a colonoscopy, the examination of a stool sample for certain DNA mutations or a virtual colonoscopy, which uses x-rays and computers to create 3-D images of a colon and recturm.
Males and females over 50 are encouraged to get screened, as are individuals with a family history of the disease or anyone showing signs or symptoms, such as pain, blood, or other irregularities.
If detected early enough, the survival rates for individuals diagnosed with colon cancer are very high during the first three stages of the disease. Even if discovered at stage three, individuals have a 70 percent survival rate, according to the CCA.