March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a time to consider this important health issue for Asian Americans. When found early, it is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer. It is recommended to get screened beginning at age 50. Here are a few reasons why it is so important that you get screened early and regularly.
Colorectal Cancer affects both men and women
It is a misconception that colorectal cancer only affects men. In fact, colon cancer is the second most common cancer among Asian American women and third most common among Asian American men.
Waiting until symptoms show may be too late
This type of cancer usually begins when the cells in your walls of the colon or rectum change and form into a lump or mass called a polyp. Polyps usually do not cause symptoms before they become large enough to spread. At this point, colorectal cancer becomes more difficult to treat and less likely to be curable.
Family history may mean less than you think
Many patients believe they do not need to worry about colorectal cancer if no one in their family has had colorectal cancer. A family member with colorectal cancer may increase your risks, but most colorectal cancers occur in people who do not have a family history.
Get screened this month!
Make an appointment this month to be screened for colorectal cancer. There are three tests that can detect colorectal cancer: colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy and fecal immunochemical test (FIT). Learn more about these tests from this factsheet. Talk to you doctor about which screening is best for you.
Written by Dr. Ady Oster
Dr. Ady Oster is the section chief of internal medicine at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. He received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and completed his residency training at Yale-New Haven Hospital and University of California at San Francisco. Dr. Oster is board-certified in internal medicine.