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   The Power of Prevention

Run, don’t walk to your doctor to ask about when you should begin colorectal cancer screenings! According to the Great Plains Colon Cancer Task Force (GPCCTF), in 2021, Nebraska ranked 29th in the nation in prevalence of colorectal cancer screenings among adults aged 50 and over, which is one of the lowest rates in the country.

The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 90% of cases occur in people aged 45 or older.

If caught early, colorectal cancer can be curable, but the five-year survival rate falls significantly once the cancer spreads. That’s why on-time screening is essential and lifesaving.

No Ifs, Ands, or BUTTs

Prevention isn’t about luck; colorectal cancer is largely preventable through routine screenings. There are several different types of screen tests that can be used to find polyps (abnormal group of cells) or colorectal cancer:

             Stool tests

             The fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is a test that you can do from the comfort of your own home. The test looks for               traces of blood in bowel samples analyzed at a pathology laboratory. If blood is found, further testing may be                       required.

            Colonoscopy

             A colonoscopy is the most common type of screening test. During the procedure, your doctor examines your                       colon by looking for any growths or abnormalities and if any polyps are identified, your doctor will remove and                     biopsy them.

            Virtual colonoscopy

             This test uses X-rays and computers to produce images of the entire colon, which are displayed on a computer                   screen for the doctor to analyze.

There is no single best test for any person, so it is important to consult with a doctor about which one is right for you.

“Many put routine care and preventive screenings on hold during the pandemic. Delaying these appointments is concerning because many conditions, like colorectal cancer, can become more complicated to treat when they’re discovered late,” said Dr. Debra Esser, chief medical officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE). “Colon cancer doesn’t typically have symptoms in the early stages, be sure to ask your doctor about when you should begin testing, based on your age, lifestyle and family history.”

Education and awareness

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and BCBSNE is supporting the GPCCTF in raising awareness of colon cancer and the importance of early detection and prevention. Be sure to stop by their booth after Leprechaun Chase on March 11 to learn more about how you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

Learn more about preventive care from BCBSNE: Preventive Care: Annual Check-ups, Immunizations & More | BCBSNE (nebraskablue.com)