Editorial: Be kind to your colon

The dreaded colonoscopy. No one likes it. Some say the preparation is worse than the test. Nevertheless, it’s right up there among things we’d like to not think about or experience.
But this relatively brief period of unpleasantness could save you a diagnosis of advanced colon cancer.
According to a press release from Western Connecticut Health Network, which includes Norwalk and Danbury hospitals, the possibility of curing patients after symptoms, such as rectal bleeding, develop is less than 50%. But if colorectal cancer is found and treated at an early stage before symptoms appear, the opportunity to cure it is 80% or better.
Because colon cancer starts with a polyp — a small growth — these can be found and removed during a colonoscopy before they become cancerous.
The health network’s doctors recommend colonoscopy for those over age 50 at average risk for colon cancer. However, people should consult their own physician to determine what is best for them.
People at increased risk for colorectal cancer include those with a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, those with a personal history of breast, uterine or ovarian cancer, and those with chronic ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. They should be screened at an earlier and more frequent rate and should see their colorectal surgeon or primary care doctor for specific recommendations.
Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking or other tobacco products can help lower the risk of colon cancer as well as many other diseases. A healthy diet, according to the American Cancer Society, includes eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day, limiting consumption of processed and red meats, choosing whole grains over processed or refined grains, and limiting alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. For more information, visit danburyhospital.org/colonoscopy or norwalkhospital.org/colonoscopy.