It’s time to talk to your doctor about colorectal cancer

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March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to figure out when you should be screened. Getting screened for colorectal cancer is something Idahoans age 50 and older should consider because it is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among adults in Idaho. In fact, 3 in 60 Idaho adults will develop colon cancer and, sadly, one of those three people will die.

Who should be screened?

It is recommended that everyone should get screened starting at age 50. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you should talk to your medical provider about getting screened earlier. All Idaho adults should get into the habit of regular screenings.

Why is screening so important?

As with all cancers, the key is early detection — your chances of beating the disease and surviving are better if it is found early. You don’t have to have a family history of colon cancer to be at risk. Colorectal cancer can begin anywhere in the large intestine as pre-cancerous polyps, with no symptoms.

Is a colonoscopy the only reliable test you can do?

Several different kinds of tests are available, including those that can be done annually from the comfort of your home. There are advantages and disadvantages for each one, so you should talk to your doctor about which is right for you. It’s also important to know that preventing colon cancer or finding it early doesn’t have to be expensive. Simple, affordable tests are available, and most health insurance plans cover the life-saving, preventative tests. Continue reading

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Cervical cancer screenings prevent cancer – every woman should be screened regularly

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All women, especially those over the age of 30, are at risk for developing cervical cancer, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it’s also the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent, with regular screening. Regular screenings are the most effective way to find the disease early and treat it. Unfortunately, Idaho has the lowest rate for cervical screening in the United States – we are 50th in the nation. We can do better!

Who is most at risk?

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex. HPV is so common that most people get it at some time in their lives. For most women, HPV will go away on its own; however, if it does not, there is a chance that over time it may cause cervical cancer.

Other factors increasing the risk of cervical cancer are not getting screened, being HIV positive, and smoking. Smoking doubles a woman’s risk of getting cervical cancer.

What are the most common symptoms?

It usually causes no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. That’s why regular screening is so important. Continue reading