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Colon cancer test can detect, prevent disease
Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby Jeanne Phillips 2005

Dear Abby: Imagine if, by applying what we already know, we could save the majority of lives that are lost to the third-leading cause of cancer in men and women. Thatís no pie-in-the-sky dream. Iím talking about colon cancer. Regular testing can help prevent this disease or detect it at its earliest, most treatable stage.

This year, colon cancer will claim the lives of more than 56,000 Americans. Thatís more than 150 deaths a day, many of them preventable. The tests allow doctors to remove polyps before they become cancerous, and prevent colon cancer from happening. These same tests can also detect early signs of the disease as effectively as mammography detects breast cancer. So why arenít Americans over the age of 50 getting tested?

Many people simply do not realize theyíre at risk beginning at age 50. Some people think they donít need to be tested because they have no family history of the disease or symptoms. The truth is, symptoms often donít appear until colon cancer has progressed, and no matter what a personís family history or how someone feels, if youíre 50 or older youíre at risk for colon cancer.

There is also the perception that the test will be embarrassing or painful. While some of the tests may be uncomfortable, colon cancer is far worse.

Abby, March marks the sixth annual National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Itís a perfect time to start raising this important subject and making sure that Americans get the test that could save their lives. Do it NOW. Donít put it off.

STEPHEN F. SENER, M.D.,
PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY

Dear Dr. Sener: I am pleased to help publicize this important message. Readers, if there is a history of colon cancer in your family, please discuss it with your doctors, regardless of your age. If youíre lucky and there isnít one, but youíre 50 or nearly there, recognize that adulthood brings with it certain responsibilities. So donít be childish, donít be embarrassed and donít be afraid. The exam isnít painful. The biggest ďinconvenienceĒ is the preparation for it. Consider it an initiation into a special club - the long-life club.

The American Cancer Society offers a free information kit to help you discuss colon cancer testing with your physician. To get one, call toll-free: (800) 227-2345 and stop colon cancer before it starts.

Copyright © 2007 Center for Colon and Rectal Surgery, 864 Second Street, Santa Rosa, California 95404 U.S.A. All rights reserved.