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March - National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Know the Facts - Get Screened

“Next to lung cancer, colorectal cancer claims the lives of more Maryland residents than any other form of cancer,” said Dr. Polsky at the Calvert County Health Department. Colon cancer is an equal opportunity cancer. It affects both men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “More lives are lost each year to colon cancer than to breast cancer and AIDS combined.”

Most people are not aware that 90% of colon cancers are curable when caught in the early stages. A colonoscopy is recommended for all men and women at age 50.

“It is important to remind everyone that early screening is the most valuable form of protection against colorectal cancer,” continued Dr. Polsky. “Many people don’t realize that precancerous polyps can be identified and easily removed at the time of colonoscopy. Catching polyps early in the cancer process saves people from going through major surgery and chemotherapy and may very well save their lives.”

For those having a family history or personal risk factors such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s colitis, or women with ovarian or endometrial cancer, screening at an earlier age may be recommended by their doctors or nurse practitioners. Many times there are no symptoms for colon cancer. However, if there are symptoms, they include unexplained weight loss, blood in the stool, lower abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, and narrow stools.

A healthy lifestyle also contributes to preventing colon cancer. This includes eating a high fiber diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, limiting alcohol, and avoiding all forms of tobacco.

Through the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund, the health department offers free colonoscopies to eligible individuals to help decrease cancer mortality rates in Maryland.

For more information, please contact Calvert County Health Department, 410-535-5400. Screenings Save Lives!!

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