Colon Cancer diagnoses in the VA reaches 4,000 cases per year
By Hans Petersen, VHA Office of Communications
This is the VA is now promoting to all medical professionals how important it is to encourage patients to get screened, and how the disease can usually be cured when caught early.
As described on the CDC's Colorectal Cancer Personal Screening Stories, Denise from Ohatchee, Alabama put off a screening colonoscopy for two years. When she finally did, she was diagnosed with rectal cancer. She stated, "For two years my doctor kept reminding me that I needed to have a screening colonoscopy. I was perfectly healthy and had no family history of colon cancer. I had many reasons to procrastinate, but basically, out of fear of the test, the prep, and a few dozen lame excuses, I chose to ignore my doctor. It wasn’t until my husband dared me in front of my doctor that I agreed to the test."
"To make a long story short, at the age of 52, I was diagnosed with rectal cancer. My fear of colonoscopies was nothing compared to my fear of dying from colorectal cancer! I was fortunate. My cancer was in the early stages, and surgery offered me a cure. The prep for the colonoscopy was honestly not that bad. The colonoscopy was accompanied by sedation that made me wonder, is that all there is to it? The moral of my story is if I had waited until I had symptoms, it would have been too late. I was fortunate. My cancer was in the early stages and surgery offered me a cure. The prep was not that bad. The sedation made me wonder, ‘Is that all there is to it?’ The moral of my story is if I had waited until I had symptoms, it would have been too late.”
For more information on Denise's story and those from others: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/stories.htm
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. It is also the second leading cause of cancer deaths, behind lung cancer. The yearly death toll from colorectal cancer in America exceeds the total number of American combat deaths during the entire Vietnam War.
The Veterans Health Administration recommends screening for colorectal cancer in adults age 50 through 75.
The decision to screen for colorectal cancer in adults age 76 through 85 should be an individual one, taking into account the patient’s overall health and prior screening history.
Six out ten deaths could be prevented
In the past decade, colorectal cancer has emerged as one of the most preventable common cancers. If all men and women age 50 and older were screened regularly, six out of ten deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented. Screening is typically recommended for all between the ages of 50 and 75 years. VA diagnoses some 4,000 new cases of the disease each year in Veterans.
Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. It’s as common in women as it is in men. Most colorectal cancers start as a growth called a polyp. If polyps are found and removed before they turn into cancer, many colorectal cancers can be prevented.
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