Fighting Colon Cancer

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Last year alone, over 56,000 people died of Colon Cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths of men and women in our society.

This is due, in part, to the lack of comfort about discussing the disease and target organ, the large bowel. Ironically, this disease is over 90% curable when detected and treated early. There is a particularly high incidence of Colorectal Cancer in the Black community. In fact, the mortality rates for African Americans are the highest out of any racial or ethnic group. Out of 100,000 African American Men, approximately 34.3% on average are diagnosed per year; out of 100,000 African American Women, about 24.5% on average are diagnosed per year with Colorectal Cancer.

That’s why the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation feels it’s imperative to connect with professional associations and media outlets in order to make an impact through education; thereby giving many people the chance to enjoy longer lives through early detection of this disease. Why are the mortality rates so high in the Black community? Some argue that environmental or dietary issues could play a role. Others state that Black women, for example, are noted for their strength and therefore might not show early warning signs. It’s also generally believed that some Black men are wary of routine visits to colorectal surgeons. Other factors also contribute to infrequent visits to Primary Care Physician and Gastroenterologists.

Here at the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation we spend a lot of time reminding people that Colon Cancer can be prevented when benign polyps are detected and removed before they become malignant. Beginning at age 45 or earlier, depending on whether there is any family history of colon cancer, it is essential that every Black  man and woman be screened for the disease.

Those under 40 years of age and who experience abdominal discomfort, bleeding, fatigue, or sudden weight loss, should discuss screening with their physician--press for the right answers. Don't allow yourself or your doctor to dismiss the symptoms as due to stress or your imagination. See a Gastroenterologist or Colorectal Surgeon for your colonoscopy and for your peace of mind.

Don't be afraid of the myths about the colonoscopy itself or the preparation the night before. Yes, you will drink some liquids to clean out your system. The test itself is simple and takes 20 minutes. If you cannot afford the colonoscopy or are uncomfortable with it, ask your doctor about other screening options.

Don't be lulled into a false sense of security because you feel great and look good. The number one symptom of colon cancer is no symptoms at all. In our society people are always looking for a quick fix, a pill or a drink to lose weight or change our life. The same is true with colon cleansers. This Foundation has no supporting objective evidence, clinical trials, or any validated scientific information supporting the value of colon cleaners. In fact, many leading experts agree that colon cleansers can do more harm than good to the colon.

We know it can be very confusing searching for information about colon cleansing. Since there are so many companies advertising their brand of colon cleansers and absolutely no medical or governmental institutions policing these companies, be careful. As with any advertised product on the internet or in your local store, it is recommended to consult with your primary care physician, or a Gastroenterologist or Colorectal Surgeon.

There are many things in life that just happen, people dying for reasons beyond their control. Not with Colon Cancer. Take control of your life and get screened. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones.

Smith is Executive Vice President of the Suan Cohan Kasdas Colon Cancer Foundation. For a complete resource guide or to learn how you can help to spread the word in your community visit the Foundation website at

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