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Check out that butt! March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, if everyone age 45 and older were screened regularly, 6 out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.

colorectal awareness graphic with blue ribbon

In 2021, the recommended screening age for colorectal cancer changed from 50 to 45. Did you know that? Maybe not … because no one really wants to talk about it.

Dealing with problems involving your derrière can be embarrassing. It’s not a topic anyone enjoys bringing up … even with a doctor. But the bottom line is, it’s essential. After all, being embarrassed isn’t going to kill anyone. Colorectal cancer can.

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and we want you to help start the conversation. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, if everyone age 45 and older were screened regularly, 6 out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented. Let that sink in. More. Than. Half. Could. Be. Saved.

Many of the symptoms of colorectal cancer don’t show up right away, making the screening even more important. Common symptoms include a change in bowel habits that lasts more than a few days, blood in the stool, cramping or abdominal pain, weakness and fatigue, and unintended weight loss.

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, you may want to get your behind to your doctor. When it comes to cancer, better safe than sorry.

So, bottoms up. If you are in the prime group for screening, schedule a colonoscopy. If you’re not, I bet you know and love someone who is. Tell them you love their butt … and want to keep it around.

A message from Dr. Tofteland

Colorectal cancer has for many years been the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. among men and women. There are several common colon cancer screening tests available to help identify colon cancer at an early, treatable stage. The tests can even identify many precancerous colon polyps, which can be removed during a colonoscopy, thereby decreasing the risk for colon cancer.

Dr. Tofteland profile photoWhile many people have heard of specialty recommendations to start colon cancer screening by the age of 50, specialty societies have within the last few years recommended starting screening at age 45 for patients at average risk for colon cancer, due to a rise in younger patients being diagnosed with colon cancer or advanced colon polyps. In our practice, we have seen patients in their 20s and 30s who have had advanced colon polyps removed or colon cancers discovered during screening or diagnostic exams, in addition to patients closer to the conventional age for colon cancer screening.

On a personal level, I had my first screening colonoscopy about three years earlier than the average 45-year-old screening recommendation due to a family history of colon polyps. During that exam, I had two precancerous polyps removed, one of which met criteria for an advanced polyp. I was truly grateful to have undergone the procedure and thereby decreased my risk for colon cancer. At KU Wichita, we offer comprehensive gastroenterology care, which includes the most up-to-date colon cancer screening recommendations.

In addition, we recently started a gastroenterology fellowship training program, which aims to increase the availability of physicians offering high-quality gastrointestinal care to the Wichita area and the state of Kansas.

- Nathan Tofteland, M.D., is associate professor in our Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, and program director of the Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Fellowship.

Finding care

Located in Wichita, Kansas, KU Wichita Gastroenterology provides comprehensive, state-of-the-art diagnostic and surgical services. Visit their website for more information or call 316-293-3455.

KU School of Medicine-Wichita