LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Colorectal cancer is diagnosed in 1 in every 23 Americans. The irony is that it is often preventable through colonoscopy screening. But Dr. Rebeccah Baucom, a colorectal surgeon and Texas Tech Physician, says that’s where we fall short in this part of the country. She explains, “In west Texas, we do not do as well as the national average. In Wst Texas, the rate of screening is only about 50% compared to 70% nationally.”
It’s proven that colonoscopy can find cancer early and even remove polyps before they turn to cancer. Since family history is a major risk factor, following the guidelines and getting that first colonoscopy at age 50 could alert others in your family that they are also high risk. So your procedure could be a red flag to the younger members in your family. Dr. Baucom says that information is worth gold since colon cancer is usually more advanced when it shows up in young people. She adds, “Unfortunately, I’ve seen several recently in their 30s and even in their 20s.”
Dr. Baucom says you are also high risk for colorectal cancer if you are African American or have inflammatory bowel disease.
She says “The most important thing to know is that colon cancer is preventable a lot of the time.” In those who are younger than the recommended screening, she says watch for these clues that you need to see a doctor.
“If you are experiencing blood in your stools or bright red rectal bleeding, or any change in bowel function new onset constipation, or diarrhea or cramping abdominal pain.”
The good news, she says, is colonoscopy is much improved in recent years. The prep is easier and patients go through a different kind of sedation that allows them to basically sleep through the procedure.