This week, Dr. Margaret Bridges will join Dr. Galati in discussing colon cancer. Dr. Bridges is a Board Certified Gastroenterologist, practicing in Houston, Texas, and a partner at Texas International Endoscopy Center. Topcs to be covered will include risk factors for colon cancer, proper screening for colon cancer, effect of diet on colon cancer, and how to reduce your risk for colon cancer.

March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. During National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, these important points about colorectal cancer are communicated:

  • Colorectal cancer can be prevented.

  • Screening for colorectal cancer can identify polyps - grape size growths in the colon and/or rectum. These can be removed to prevent cancer from ever occurring.
  • Starting at age 50, men and women who are at average risk for colorectal cancer should get screened. Men and women who have a higher risk of the disease may need to be tested earlier and should talk to their health care professional about when.
  • No matter what your age, know the risk factors, know the symptoms, know your family history.
  • Colorectal cancer is treatable.
  • Talk with your health care professional today.

Many times, colorectal cancer can be prevented; still, it's the second most common cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States. Don't let these 5 common myths stop you from getting the lifesaving tests you need, when you need them.

Myth: Colorectal cancer is a man’s disease.

Truth: Colorectal cancer is just as common among women as men. This year, about 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 55,000 will die from the disease.

Myth: Colon cancer cannot be prevented.

Truth: In many cases colon cancer can be prevented. Colon cancer almost always starts with a small growth called a polyp. If the polyp is found early, doctors can remove it and stop colon cancer before it starts.

Myth: African Americans are not at risk for colon cancer.

Truth: African-American men and women are diagnosed with and die from colon cancer at higher rates than men and women of any other US racial or ethnic group.

Myth: Age doesn’t matter when it comes to getting colon cancer.

Truth: More than 90% of colon cancer cases occur in people age 50 and older. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends you start getting tested for the disease at age 50. People who are at increased risk for colon cancer -- for example, those with a family history of the disease -- may need to begin testing at a younger age. You should talk to your doctor about your specific situation and when you should begin getting tested.

Myth: It’s better not to get tested for colon cancer because it’s deadly anyway.

Truth: Colon cancer is often highly treatable. If colon cancer is found early and treated, the 5-year survival rate is 90%. But because many people are not getting tested, only 39% of cases are diagnosed at this early stage when treatment is so successful.

For additional information, visit these selected web sites:

 American Cancer Society

Colon Cancer: Centers for Disease Control

 What is colonoscopy?

 What Does a Colon Polyp Look Like?