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Published on February 20, 2020

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Dr. Colleen McCurry

Gundersen Boscobel's Dr. Colleen McCurry

No question about it…colonoscopies save lives.

Gundersen Boscobel Hospital and Clinics staff will proudly dress in blue on Friday, March 6, to help raise awareness of colon cancer and the importance of timely screenings in preventing the disease.

In 2000, March was designated as National Colon Cancer Awareness month. Since then, it has grown to be the month when patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates throughout the area come together to increase colon cancer awareness. 

The American Cancer Society estimates that 147,950 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 53,200 could die from this disease in 2020.

Since the mid-1980s, the colorectal cancer survival rate has been increasing, due in part to increased awareness and screening. "A colonoscopy is an exam that could save your life," explains Brenda Kreul, director of surgery, Gundersen Boscobel. "By finding polyps and cancer in the earlier stages, it is easiest to treat. Improved treatment options have also contributed to a rise in survival rates."

According to Colleen McCurry, MD, Family Medicine physician at Gundersen Boscobel, people with the greatest risk of developing colon cancer include those:

  • with a family history of polyps or colon cancer
  • who are 50 years old or older
  • with a history of polyps
  • with a history of Crohn's disease or Lynch syndrome

"Nobody looks forward to a colonoscopy, but it can prevent much worse things down the road," says Dr. McCurry. "If you ask someone who's had a colonoscopy, they'll probably tell you, ‘It's not so bad.'"

In fact, even the preparation for colonoscopy is better than it used to be. For many patients, they may be able to use a sport drink-based option that tastes much better.

While colonoscopy is the best test for colon cancer, for people who cannot have a colonoscopy or do not wish to, alternate options such as fit testing are available and can also find many colon cancers.

Lower your risk

In addition to regular colonoscopies, McCurry also suggests the following to lower your risk for colon cancer:

  • Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet.
  • If you consume alcohol, drink in moderation. If you use tobacco, quit. If you don't use tobacco, don't start. Alcohol and tobacco in combination are linked to colon cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. Moderate exercise such as walking, gardening or climbing steps may help.

'GO BLUE' on Friday, March 6 and then tell people WHY!

For an appointment with Dr. McCurry or a fellow provider in Boscobel, Fennimore or Muscoda, please call Gundersen Boscobel's central scheduling at (608) 375-4144.

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