Colorectal cancer incidence rates dropped 30 percent in 10 years among adults 50 and up, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). US patients older than 65 saw the largest decrease. ACS credits the trends primarily to widespread colonoscopy screening. The practice has almost tripled among adults ages 50 to 75, from 19 percent in 2000 to 55 percent in 2010.
ACS published its findings from the most recent decade of data (2001 to 2010) in its clinical journal, which also noted that mortality rates for colorectal cancer (commonly called colon cancer) also declined rapidly in 10 years.
About Colonoscopy Screenings
A colonoscopy is a relatively simple, 15-minute procedure to locate and remove precancerous growths before they become a major health hazard.
Generally, ACS recommends undergoing a colonoscopy ever 10 years, beginning at age 50. However, patients with a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease (like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) often need to begin colonoscopy screenings when they are younger. Furthermore, any of these symptoms may necessitate a colonoscopy:
- bleeding or pain with bowel movements;
- changes in bowel habits with either increasing constipation or diarrhea;
- abdominal pain;
- bloating; or
- weight loss.
Early detection and treatment are helpful in fighting colorectal cancer. Also important are the essential “ingredients” to reduce the chances of developing it:
- a high-fiber diet;
- avoiding red meat;
- regular exercise; and
- smoking cessation.