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Are you up to date with this lifesaving screening?

The statistics are alarming: colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in U.S. men and women combined. But thanks to advancements in screenings and treatment methods, the colorectal cancer death rate has been declining over the past few decades.

“Screening for colorectal cancer can absolutely be lifesaving,” says Dr. Nicholas Ward, a colorectal surgeon at Aurora Health Care. “That’s because when colorectal cancer is caught at an early stage, the survival rate is extremely high.”

According to the American Cancer Society, only 4 out of 10 colorectal cancers are discovered at an early stage, which is likely due to the fact that many people are not up to date on recommended screenings.

“Some people dread colorectal screening preparation and put screening off for that reason. But both the preparation and the colonoscopy are worth their weight in gold when it comes to detecting and preventing colorectal cancer,” Dr. Ward says.

Individuals at average risk of colorectal cancer should begin screening at age 45. Certain risk factors can increase a person’s risk and make it necessary for earlier testing, including family history and inflammatory bowel disease.

There are several screening tests available for colorectal cancer. Talk with your doctor to determine which is right for you. The right test will depend on your preferences, medical and family history and resources.

In addition to keeping up with recommended colorectal screenings, Dr. Ward offers the following recommendations:

  • Increase your fiber intake and eat a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Stay active and exercise throughout the week.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption

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