‘Get a colonoscopy’: LewisGale doctor emphasizes the importance of colon cancer screenings

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

SALEM, Va. – Colon cancer is the third most common cause of cancer deaths, according to the CDC.

This is why bringing awareness to colon cancer during the month of March is so important to healthcare leaders.

“Simply put, colon cancer is very common and at the same time, is very preventable by having a colonoscopy,” said LewisGale gastroenterologist, Dr. Brian van der Linden.

“Usually the main thing we are looking for are little growths called polyps. Polyps are an abnormal growth that are benign but over time they can grow and become cancerous,” he said.

Doctors recommend getting colonoscopies at the latest, age 50. But for those with a family history of colon cancer, you should get checked earlier.

“If someone has a family history of colon cancer, they have a three to four times more risk if they have a first degree relative with colon cancer. So normally the recommendation would be to start at age 40,” said Dr. van der Linden.

Recently, doctors are seeing more cases of colon cancer in younger adults.

“In the age of 40 and 50, the prevalence has been increasing by 2% each year which has caused some concern,” said Dr. van der Linden.

It’s still unclear why doctors are seeing more cases in younger people. Some theories are obesity or diets including more processed foods.

If you have been putting off your preventative cancer screening, this is your sign.

“Doing a colonoscopy and removing polyps can prevent colon cancer and so, get a colonoscopy,” said Dr. van der Linden.

Symptoms of colon cancer include rectal bleeding, changes in bowel movements or stomach discomfort.

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