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If You Are 50 and Over, Make Getting Screened for Colorectal Cancer Your New Year's Resolution

OAK BROOK, Ill., Dec. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As a new year approaches, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) encourages all men and women age 50 and over to add getting screened for colorectal cancer to their list of New Year's resolutions for 2008. Recent studies have confirmed that a majority of Americans who should be screened for colorectal cancer are not. Colorectal cancer is a preventable and treatable disease when caught in its early stages. If you are age 50 or over, talk to your doctor about the colorectal cancer screening method that is best for you.

Colorectal cancer almost always develops from abnormal growths, called polyps, in the colon or rectum. Screening through colonoscopy saves lives by detecting and removing the precancerous polyps before they become cancerous.

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, killing nearly 56,000 people each year. Many of those deaths could be prevented with earlier detection. The five-year relative survival rate for people whose colorectal cancer is treated in an early stage is greater than 90 percent. Unfortunately, only 39 percent of colorectal cancers are found at that early stage. Once the cancer has spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes, the five-year relative survival rate decreases dramatically.

ASGE screening guidelines recommend that, beginning at age 50, men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should begin colorectal cancer screening. People with risk factors, such as a family history of colorectal cancer, should begin at an earlier age. Patients are advised to discuss their risk factors with their physician to determine when to begin routine colorectal cancer screening and how often they should be screened. Colonoscopy is a procedure which looks at the entire colon and plays a very important role in colorectal cancer prevention because it is the only method that is both diagnostic and therapeutic. Not only does colonoscopy view the entire colon, but it also removes polyps before they turn into cancer.

Colorectal cancer can be present in people without symptoms, known family history, or predisposing conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

While common in other benign conditions, the following symptoms might indicate colorectal cancer:

-- Unexplained change in bowel habits

-- Unexplained weight loss

-- Blood in the stool

-- Unexplained anemia

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor.

For more information about colorectal cancer screening or to find a qualified physician, visit ASGE's colorectal cancer awareness Web site at

About the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Founded in 1941, the mission of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy is to be the leader in advancing patient care and digestive health by promoting excellence in gastrointestinal endoscopy. ASGE, with more than 10,000 physician members worldwide, promotes the highest standards for endoscopic training and practice, fosters endoscopic research, recognizes distinguished contributions to endoscopy, and is the foremost resource for endoscopic education. Visit and for more information.

About Endoscopy

Endoscopy is performed by specially-trained physicians called endoscopists using the most current technology to diagnose and treat diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Using flexible, thin tubes called endoscopes, endoscopists are able to access the human digestive tract without incisions via natural orifices. Endoscopes are designed with high-intensity lighting and fitted with precision devices that allow viewing and treatment of the gastrointestinal system. In many cases, screening or treatment of conditions can be delivered via the endoscope without the need for further sedation, treatment or hospital stay.

SOURCE American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
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