Editorial: Let's make a deal

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Let's make a deal. I'll schedule a colorectal screening this month, if you do. Of course, check with your doctor before you do anything!

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month – a good time to schedule a screening. The CDC says if everyone who is 50 years old and older were screened regularly, as many as 66 percent of deaths from this cancer could be avoided.

Every year approximately 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 die from it. In fact, colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.

Those of us 50 years and older need to have a screening test – even if we aren't experiencing any symptoms. That's because precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don't always cause symptoms, especially at first.

What are some of the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

They may include:

• Blood in or on the stool (bowel movement)

• Stomach pain, aches or cramps that do not go away

• Weight loss

Some of us are at higher risk for this type of cancer. Having any of these may increase the risk:

• Inflammatory bowl disease

• A personal or family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer

• Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, also known as Lynch syndrome

This isn't the easiest subject to discuss, but we have to have the conversation. We need to spread the word about colorectal cancer and encourage our friends and family over the age of 50 to get screened. Colorectal cancer screening saves lives. Here's why:

• Colorectal cancer usually starts from polyps (growths that should not be there)

• Screening tests can find polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer

• Screening tests can find colorectal cancer early when the chance of being cured is higher

Although I don't usually share my medical history with the general public, I will say this: I've had a colonoscopy and colorectal polyps removed.

The procedure was painless, but had to be done in a hospital setting.

I was in my 20s when I had the proceedure done and since then, I haven't had any symptoms.

Maybe that's why I haven't had regular screenings, even though I'm in a high risk group. Still, it's a poor excuse. I'm in my 50s now and I know better.

So let's make a deal. I'll schedule a colorectal screening this month, if you do. Maybe we'll save a life – our own.

Lisa Yates is the editor of Gonzales Weekly Citizen. Follow her on Twitter @Lisa_editor.