Each year in NYC, more than 1,200 adults die of colon cancer, making it the third-leading cause of cancer deaths in the city and in Brooklyn.

Colon Cancer
Photo credit: CBS News

On Wednesday, the American Cancer Society (ACS) updated its colorectal cancer screening guideline, recommending that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45, instead of starting at age 50 as previously recommended.

ACS lowered the age after looking closely at evidence that new cases of colorectal cancer are occurring at an increasing rate among younger adults. That evidence includes a major analysis led by ACS researchers. After reviewing the data, experts concluded that a beginning screening age of 45 for adults of average risk will result in more lives saved from colorectal cancer.

According to the new guidelines, you are more likely to get colon cancer if you are 45 or older; had colon cancer or polyps previously, or if you have a family history of colon cancer; do not exercise regularly; are obese; drink alcohol or smoke. Colon cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups. Early detection can help prevent colon cancer from forming; it is up to 40% preventable. Routine screenings can also help doctors find colon cancer early when it is easier to treat.

The American Cancer Society recommends that any of the following screening test options be used:

  • If you are 45 or older, you should have a colonoscopy every 10 years.
  • If you are at increased risk for colon cancer based on family history or other health risks, talk to your doctor to find out what age is appropriate for you to begin screening and how often you should be tested.
Colonoscopy: Removal of a polyp. Photo courtesy of russellhavranekmd.com

A colonoscopy can remove polyps — small growths that may develop into cancer if left alone — before they turn into cancer. A colonoscopy is safe and usually painless.

In Central and East Brooklyn, the following health centers and hospitals offer colon cancer screenings:

  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull in Bedford Stuyvesant
  • Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford Stuyvesant
  • Brookdale University Medical Center in Brownsville
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County in East Flatbush
  • SUNY Downstate Medical Center in East Flatbush
  • The Brooklyn Hospital Center in Fort Greene
  • Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Bushwick

Also, talk to your doctor to schedule a screening, or call 311 for information on where you can get free or low-cost screenings.

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