March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, which spotlights
a form of cancer often caught early by screening.
Dr. William “Grif” Blackard of Digestive Services –
Lexington calls colonoscopies “the gold standard for early detection of colon
“Katie Couric lost her husband to colon cancer (in 1998) and
made it her campaign to improve colon cancer screening,” Dr. Blackard says. Couric,
then host of “Today” on NBC, even had herself filmed having a colonoscopy to
bring attention to the issue. As a result, in recent years, “we’ve done
significantly more colonoscopies than in the past.”
Dr. Blackard says because colonoscopies have been so
successful at early detection, most of his patients are open to having the
procedure at age 50, as is recommended. The lifetime risk of developing
colorectal cancer is 1 in 21 (4.7 percent) for men and 1 in 23 (4.4 percent)
for women, according to the American Cancer Society.
Although March brings attention to colon cancer, Dr.
Blackard says awareness “should be a year-round thing. Colon cancer is a
Indeed, 99 percent of the colonoscopies Dr. Blackard
performs show a person to be either in good health or have small polyps that
are easily removed during the procedure. The 1 percent of patients who have
larger polyps or malignancies can have those growths removed during a later
surgery, “and in many cases, that’s curative,” Dr. Blackard says.
Among the risk factors for colon cancer are: age, a family
history of polyps or colon cancer, smoking, being overweight or obese, having
type 2 diabetes and heavy alcohol use.
You can reduce your colon cancer risk if you follow these
- Eat a high-fiber, low-fat diet
- Limit the amount of meat you eat
- Avoid processed foods
- Use olive oil for cooking
- Quit smoking
- Exercise regularly
If you are 50 or older, you should consider having a
colonoscopy because it can catch problems early. Dr. Blackard and the Digestive
Services – Lexington team provide an experienced and compassionate approach to
care for their patients. Make the time this March to schedule your colonoscopy