Colorectal specialist Dr. Patrick Solan of Rochester Colon and Rectal Surgeons discussed the prevalence of colon cancer and the steps we can take to prevent it Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“It’s actually quite common,” said Dr. Solan of colon cancer. “It’s the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. We expect about a hundred and forty thousand people this year will be diagnosed with it. Locally, it’s about one out of every 22 or 24 people, will be diagnosed within their lifetime, possibly.”

Dr. Solan said everybody has a baseline risk, but certain people do have an elevated risk. “We know that if you have a genetic component — you have family members with a history of colon or rectal cancer — or you yourself have had polyps, that does put you at an increased risk. Also, certain underlining disease such as inflammatory bowl diseases, like Ulcerative Colitis or or Crohn’s, do put you at an elevated risk.”

Colon cancer is absolutely preventable according to Dr. Solan. “There’s some basic things that you can do. Obviously, live a healthy lifestyle, as you’ve been told in the past. Have a diet high in fiber with fruits and vegetables and get good exercise. Obviously, quit smoking, and then be screened for colorectal cancer.”

When it comes to screening, Dr. Solan said it doesn’t matter what it does, just make sure you’re getting checked. “The ‘gold standard’ at this time, still remains a colonoscopy, as far as I’m concerned, but there’s lots of different tests that you can do. There’s different blood tests and stool tests. There are newer genes that they can test your stool for. Colonoscopies are, not only screening, but also a preventative measure so we can find polyps and remove them before they become a colorectal cancer.”

As for when to begin testing, Dr. Solan said generally it’s at the age of fifty, “if you’re what we call, an average risk person.” He added, “If you have certain high-risk features, like a family history of colon or rectal cancer and polyps, like we discussed, you might need to start sooner. I recommend that you discuss that with your primary care doctor, or your family so you know your history.”

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