Stop Colorectal Cancer

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. What is your risk, and what can you do about it? Dr. Robynne Chutkan has the answers.
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Q. How common is colon cancer -- it's more common in men, right?

Wrong! Colon cancer is like an equal opportunity employer. Women have exactly the same chance of getting it as men. Somehow colon cancer seems like the type of thing my husband has to worry about, but I don't. However, there's a 6 percent lifetime risk for men and women, exactly the same.

When you look at cancer deaths in nonsmoking men and women you see that, for women, breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths and colon cancer is actually the second leading cause. The order changes if you count skin cancer or not, and whether there are smokers in the mix, but the risk for colon cancer is certainly higher than cervical cancer. Most women would never think of missing their pap smear, but they think, "I'll just think about colonoscopy another time." The test is not that frequent -- every decade is not such a big deal. So I think the biggest impediment for screening is women not realizing they are at risk.

Continued on page 2:  Why Are Younger Women Susceptible?

 

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