You can't afford to wait. That's the message given this month, which is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
After all, those who wait for colon cancer testing are playing a very dangerous game.
Consider these statistics: Cancers of the colon become more lethal when found later, and cancer that has spread from the colon to the lymph nodes before discovery and treatment has a cure rate of just 60 percent. If the cancer has spread to other organs by the time it is detected, the survival rate is less than 10 percent, according to some doctors.
Combine those statistics with the fact colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and every year, approximately 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with the cancer and more than 50,000 people die each year from it.
So with that said, we're reminding anyone age 50 and older about a cancer screening test. The colonoscopy, while not the most pleasant of all tests, can result in a 90 percent chance of surviving any early-stage cancer found during the test, according to the American Cancer Society.
Now that is an encouraging statistic, and physicians can remove potentially pre-cancerous polyps from the colon and rectum, or get the patient quickly into treatment for any cancer that is found.
The fact is that if everyone age 50 and older were screened regularly, as many as 60 percent of deaths from colon cancer could be avoided, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cutting down on the number of people who die from the disease simply is a matter of committing to take the test.
If you're 50 or older, or less than 50 but with a family history of polyps or a medical condition involving the colon, getting tested means a greater opportunity to survive.
Don't wait for symptoms. Take preventive action, which includes increased physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight, and have the test.
Your life depends on it.