Talkeetna: (907) 733-2273 ~ Willow: (907) 495-4100 ~ Wasilla: (907) 376-2273

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The Most Preventable Yet Least Prevented Cancer – Get Screened!

illustration of colon in human

Colon cancer, also referred to as colorectal cancer, is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in the United States. It begins as a cluster of cells in the colon–a growth called a polyp. At first, these polyps can be benign (not yet cancerous). However, if undetected, the polyps can become cancerous over time, and often show no symptoms along the way.

Colon cancer is one of the only cancers that you can find before it even reaches the cancerous stage. If you are 50 years old or older, it’s important that you get screened. Screening offers the opportunity to find polyps and to stop disease progression by catching premalignant polyps so they can be removed before they develop into cancer. Even with the high rates of colon cancer, if it’s found early enough, it is highly treatable. Don’t wait for the symptoms before talking to your doctor about getting screened. By simply getting screened, you can essentially stop colon cancer in its tracks.

Unfortunately, too many patients avoid colon cancer screening due to misconceptions or fears about the screening process. It is OK to have questions or reservations about your screening colonoscopy or colonoscopy preparation, but it’s also critical to know that this procedure can SAVE YOUR LIFE.

You Don’t Have To Get A Colonoscopy!

There’s more than one way to screen for colon cancer. Sunshine Community Health Center offers an easy, non-invasive screening with:

  • Coverage from most insurance plans under preventative screenings. Insurance plans may change in the near future so don’t wait. Get tested now.
  • No diet or drug restrictions. Continue taking your medications and eat what you like.
  • A Convenient take home kit. Collect in the privacy of your home.
  • Sanitary and user-friendly method with an easy collection process and customer service help line.

Call us at (907) 733-2273 and ask for a Patient Advocate to see if your test could be free.

graph showing survival rates for colorectal cancer when detected and treated at each stage

What Causes Colon Cancer?

There is no single cause of colon cancer but the following factors increase your risk of developing the disease.

  • Age 50 or older
  • Family history
  • Genetic alterations
  • A diet rich in fat and red meat
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Obesity, diabetes, and lack of exercise

We are all different, and not everyone with these risk factors will develop the colon cancer but individuals with lifestyle habits that include the risk factors listed above should get screened. Talk to your medical provider about screening options and frequency.

 How does Colon Cancer Start?

 

What are Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer often has no obvious signs or symptoms in the early stages. By the time symptoms show themselves, it has advanced to a later stage. If you start to experience any of the following symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor right away:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by having one
  • Blood in your stool
  • Cramping or stomach pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

drawing of a Colorectal cancer polyp

How Can You Reduce Your Risk

Colon cancer risk is based on both genetic factors and lifestyle factors. Lifestyle factors are completely within your control—this group of risk factors includes diet and exercise habits, alcohol and tobacco consumption, and other decisions that can impact your health. Research shows high levels of physical activity and diets high in fiber and whole grains can help reduce risk for colon cancer. Conversely, diets high in processed foods and red meat can increase risk for colon cancer. Simply improving your lifestyle habits can dramatically reduce your cancer risk. Stay active and eat a primarily plant based diet.

 

A Non-Invasive Colorectal Cancer Screening.

Learn more about the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT).
The easy, non-invasive screening in a take home kit.

Curtis Harvie, DNP, FNP-BC, AHN-BC

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