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American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons

Five Myths About Colorectal or Colon Cancer

Myth: Colorectal cancer is a man's disease. 

Truth: Colorectal cancer is just as common among women as men. This year, about 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 55,000 will die from the disease. 

Myth: Colon cancer cannot be prevented. 

Truth:  In many cases colon cancer can be prevented. Colon cancer almost always starts with a small growth called a polyp. If the polyp is found early, doctors can remove it and stop colon cancer before it starts. 

Myth: African Americans are not at risk for colon cancer. 

Truth: African-American men and women are diagnosed with and die from colon cancer at higher rates than men and women of any other US racial or ethnic group. 

Myth: Age doesn't matter when it comes to getting colon cancer. 

Truth: More than 90% of colon cancer cases occur in people age 50 and older. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends you start getting tested for the disease at age 50.  People who are at increased risk for colon cancer - for example, those with a family history of the disease - may need to begin testing at a younger age. You should talk to your doctor about your specific situation and when you should begin getting tested. 

Myth: It's better not to get tested for colon cancer because it's deadly anyway. 

Truth: Colon cancer is often highly treatable. If colon cancer if found early and treated, the 5-year survival rate is 90%. But because many people are not getting tested, only 39% of cases are diagnosed at this early stage when treatment is so successful.
 
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