Five myths about colorectal cancer

Miami Herald

Many times, colorectal cancer can be prevented. Still, it’s one of the five most common cancers in men and women in the United States. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer death in the United States. Don’t let these five common myths stop you from getting the lifesaving tests you need.

Myth: Colorectal cancer is a man’s disease.

Truth: It is just as common among women as men. Each year, about 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and about 50,000 die from the disease.

Myth: Colorectal cancer cannot be prevented.

Truth: It almost always starts with a small growth, a polyp. If found early, doctors can remove it and prevent cancer. These tests can find polyps: double contrast barium enema, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy or CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy).

To help lower your chances of getting colorectal cancer, follow these steps: stay a healthy weight, be physically active, limit alcohol intake, eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and less red or processed meat.

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

Truth: They are diagnosed with and die from it at higher rates than men and women of any other U.S. racial or ethnic group. The reason for this is not understood.

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

Truth: More than 90 percent of cases are found in people age 50 and older. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends getting tested for the disease at age 50. People who are at a higher risk for colorectal cancer— such as those who have family histories of colon or rectal cancer —may need to begin testing before 50. Ask your doctor.

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

Truth: If it is found and treated early (while it is small and before it has spread), the five-year survival rate is about 90 percent. But because many people do not get tested, only about four out of 10 are diagnosed at this early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.

Source: American Cancer Society