The medical community recently announced that colon cancer is on the rise for people under 50 and tumours are often diagnosed at a more advanced stage. This news opened a much needed conversation about the disease but, for the colon cancer community, it is also incredibly frustrating. We know what most people do not, that colon cancer is highly treatable and, if detected in the early stages, has a 90-per-cent recovery rate.
This is huge, yet, people continue to focus on the scare factor of the disease showing up at an earlier age or processed meats being a main contributor. This information is important but what is more important is that screening can prevent deaths and this is the conversation that we need to be having.
Health and wellness are common topics at the dinner table.
The Canadian Cancer Society recognizes colon cancer as the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). It is the second leading cause of death from cancer in men and the third leading cause of death from cancer in women in Canada. The disease is highly treatable if caught in the early phases but half of the diagnosis are found out too late.
However, colon cancer does not get the same attention as other cancers because we've been raised to not talk about this part of the body. Its function is necessary but, as our mothers have told us, its output is not considered "table talk." In order to see a real change in fighting this disease, we need to start talking about it.
Health and wellness are common topics at the dinner table. For example, how many times have you been at a dinner party where a guest is sharing their most recent cleanse diet? I would like to point out that most cleanses are actually cleaning your colon but I'm assuming this part of the conversation has been left out.
The point is, we need to stop dancing around a topic that makes us feel slightly uncomfortable and start having meaningful conversations that could potentially save lives. Forget what your mother told you about appropriate table talk because conversations about colon cancer and colonoscopies should be held at your dinner parties, family gatherings and anywhere in your life.
Now that we're on the topic of dinner party etiquette, one that may come up this week is the recommendation to move away from annual medical check-ups. The Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination concluded that "routine annual physical exam should be discarded." Alternatively, doctors should be creating "selective plans of health protection packages" appropriate to the health and needs of the patient's life stages.
This announcement sparks the conversation that Canadians need to take a more proactive role in their health. Discuss with your doctor what routine screenings you should be considering at your age and according to your lifestyle. Or consider at home testing options for a less invasive and more time conscious option, for more information visit: http://coloncancercanada.ca/get-the-test/
In 2015, colon cancer took 9,300 Canadian lives but, given the available information around prevention and screening, there is no reason that this number cannot decrease in 2016. A simple conversation today, could save lives tomorrow and it's up to us to make this change.
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The news anchor lost her husband, Jay, to colorectal cancer in 1998, and she "became determined to share my newfound knowledge about this deadly disease with the public," she wrote online. She launched the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance to help educate people, opened the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and later co-founded Stand Up To Cancer.
When she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2002, the TV personality (and Ozzy's wife) thought, "My work isn't finished here with my family," she told People. That drive to survive got her through surgery and chemo, helping her to remain cancer-free since May 2004. "You can go, 'Why me?' Or you fight the cancer and say, 'You are gone,'" she said.
The 40th president underwent surgery for colon cancer in July of 1985. Two feet of his colon were removed, according to Fitness magazine. He fully recovered, living until 2004, when he died at the age of 93, after 10 years battling Alzheimer's disease.
The first Pope to be photographed in a hospital bed, John Paul had surgery to remove colon cancer in 1992. He died in 2005 at age 84.
The baseball great, left, underwent surgery and chemotherapy for colon cancer in 1998, and announced in 2000 that the cancer had returned, according to the AP. Strawberry's agent said a CT scan suggested the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes. Today he is involved in raising autism awareness and engages in various public speaking endeavors.
As a colon cancer survivor, the fashion designer is involved in many efforts to raise awareness for colorectal cancer. He has joined forces with Katie Couric, the NCCRA and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, among others, according to his website. "Before I was diagnosed with colon cancer I was totally unaware of my own family history relating to the disease. With no family history on record, I was not eligible for prescreening by insurance and would have normally had to wait until the age of 50 for my first colon cancer screening. Had I waited my prognoses would have been much, much different," he has said.
The actress starred in this public service announcement in 2008 alongside Valvo urging people to talk to their doctors to get screened for colorectal cancer. "My good friend Carmen is living proof that colorectal cancer is treatable. As a first step, we want to encourage people to talk to their doctors about getting screened.," she told People.com.
The football coach died at age 57 from colon cancer, after surgery to remove a tumor and a section of his colon. The Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation, created in his honor, has since raised over $15 million to fund cancer research and care.
The basketball great told CNN, "My grandfather died from colorectal cancer, my uncle died from colorectal cancer and my father almost died from colorectal cancer," adding that he himself has the gene. He became involved in a public awareness campaign, according to CNN, before being diagnosed with leukemia in 2009, at the age of 62. He said his cancer was at "absolute minimum" in 2011.
The U.S. Supreme Court Justice was diagnosed with early-stage colon cancer in 1999 and never missed a day on the bench during treatment, ABC News reported. In 2009, it was revealed that she had also undergone surgery to move a small tumor on her pancreas.
The actress died in 1993 at the age of 63 from colon cancer. She had undergone surgery in November of 1992, the New York Times reported.
The singer died in 2008 at age 81 from colon cancer, the AP reported.
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