More Iowans are apparently getting the word about the risks of colon cancer and their significantly greater odds of beating cancer if it’s found early. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Carol Frazell is the colon cancer care coordinator at a Des Moines hospital and says the number of colon cancer cases and deaths is expected to fall this year.
Frazell says it was predicted that in 2007 there would be 940 new cases of colon cancer in Iowa and 330 deaths. For the year ahead, she says it’s expected that those numbers will go down two-to-three percent from last year, due to the increased emphasis on screening and prevention. She says anyone in Iowa over 50 should be checked for colon cancer, earlier if it runs in their family.
She says a fecal-occult blood test should be done every year to check for blood in the stool. If it comes up positive, more testing would be done. Frazell says everyone over 50 should also have a colonoscopy, which provides a baseline for any polyps. She says when colon cancer is found early, it can be cured. Frazell says some people may be hesitant to get a colonoscopy because they think it will hurt or they’ll be embarrassed — but she says those fears are unfounded.
She says: "The prep has changed dramatically. Today, we can often use medications in oral form, pills, rather than a large amount of fluid that they took in the past. The test itself is rarely uncomfortable because you are given sedation. Often you wake up and ask if they’re going to do it, but it’s already done." For more information, call the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345 or visit the Cancer Society website .