PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Each year approximately 150,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with colon cancer and nearly 50,000 will die from the disease. All men and women are at risk for colon cancer. However, because of disproportionate screening rates, minorities, including Hispanics, are more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer in advanced stages. Survival rates after diagnosis are also lower for Hispanics and may be due to less access to timely and high-quality treatment. The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), representing the specialists in colon cancer screening, advises Hispanics to speak to their physicians about getting screened for colon cancer.

«Colon cancer is a largely preventable disease. Colonoscopy screening can detect polyps and remove them before they turn into cancer,» said Marcia R. Cruz-Correa, MD, PhD, FASGE, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. «There is a myth in the Hispanic community that colon cancer is a man’s disease. Colon cancer is an equal opportunity disease that does not discriminate against gender or race. I encourage all Hispanics age 50 and over to speak with their physician about colon cancer screening. If you have a family history of the disease, you may need to begin screening before age 50.»

Colon cancer affects both men and women. Your age, not your gender, is the single most important risk factor for colon cancer. According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Hispanic men and the third leading cause of cancer deaths among women. The death rates due to colon cancer between 1994 and 2003 have decreased for Hispanic men, but have not changed for Hispanic women. Both men and women should undergo testing for the disease starting at age 50. Most insurance covers screening at age 50. If you are 65 or older, screening is covered by Medicare. For many people, a referral is not required.

Colorectal cancer, also referred to as colon cancer, is cancer of the colon or rectum and is the third-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. for men and women combined. Colorectal cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in Hispanic Americans. Some people are at a higher risk for the disease because of age, lifestyle or personal and family medical history. When people are diagnosed with colon cancer at an early stage, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent, which is why screening for prevention and early detection is so important.

Colon Cancer Screening
Colonoscopy plays an important role in colon cancer prevention because precancerous polyps can be removed when they are discovered during the procedure. Polyps are growths on the lining of the colon or rectum that may become cancer. These polyps can be removed to prevent cancer from occurring. Colonoscopy, when performed by a well-trained endoscopist, gastroenterologist or surgeon, is the most effective screening test.

Colon Cancer Symptoms
Colon cancer is a silent killer. Usually there are no symptoms to rely on, and when there are symptoms, the cancer may be at an advanced stage. When colon cancer is caught early, most people are cured. However, when colon cancer is detected at later stages, the chances for cure are much lower.

Although colon cancer often has no symptoms, warning signs that may indicate colon cancer include blood in your stools, narrower than normal stools, unexplained abdominal pain, unexplained change in bowel habits, unexplained anemia, and unexplained weight loss. These symptoms may be caused by other benign diseases such as hemorrhoids, inflammation in the colon or irritable bowel syndrome. If you have any of these symptoms, however, you should be evaluated by your physician.

Language Barriers
A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine (June 23, 2008) also cited language as a barrier in regards to racial discrepa


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