While other cancers such as breast, lung, and prostate cancer receive a greater narrative within our society, colon cancer accounts for the 5th most cancer deaths in men and the 3rd most cancer deaths in women. But there’s good news: colon cancer is also one of the most preventative cancers.
In colon cancer, the cancer starts in the colon (a long muscular tube that produces waste) or rectum (a chamber that begins at the end of the colon and ends at the anus, through which stool leaves the body). Screening can detect abnormal cells that have grown into polyps (small lumps of cells), which generally take 10 to 15 years to develop into cancer.
For understandable reasons, the concept of a colonoscopy can be intimidating and difficult to talk about, but the reality is medical advancements at RWJB have made the procedure a walk in the park. It can be performed as an outpatient operation in practically all individuals and takes about 20 minutes to complete the treatment. The sedative employed is extremely effective; you will wake up within three minutes of the treatment being completed, will recover rapidly, and will be able to eat practically immediately. The complete operation, including arrival an hour prior to the procedure and recovery, usually takes less than 2 hours.
Again, because colon cancer is best treated when it is caught early, be sure to contact your doctor if you have any symptoms that include a persistent change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding or blood in the store, and/or the feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely.