Nebraskans have higher than average rates of colon cancer
HASTINGS, Neb. (Nebraska) — March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and there are a few numbers that Nebraskans need to take note of. Health officials say colon cancer is the second cancer diagnosis and second cancer-related death. According to a study by the CDC, the national rate of colon cancer is 37.7 per 100,000.
As a state, Nebraska has a slightly higher rate at 41.9. As a region, Buffalo County has the highest rate at 45.8, Hall County is slightly lower at 44.1, while Adams County is 44 per 100,000.
“Some of the things that contribute to that are diet and exercise,” said Dr. Zachary Frey, physician at Hastings Family Care. “Healthy living helps prevent colon cancer and thus get screened. So we know that places that have a high rate of screening have a lower risk of developing colon cancer because screening can actually prevent you from getting cancer altogether.
Frey said that because colon cancer is seen in people at a young age, the CDC has moved screening guidelines from age 50 to 45.
“These screenings are important because they can actually prevent you from getting cancer altogether,” Frey said. “You know, I encourage everyone to talk to their primary provider about this because the experience of having a colonoscopy or being screened for colon cancer generally isn’t as bad as most people think. It usually only takes about 20 minutes or so.
Frey said patients sleep through the process, and insurance providers typically cover the entire cost. Also, to address this issue, Nebrascans could take a break from a heavy meat diet.
“We are a state and an area that has more meat, and don’t say it’s bad,” Frey said. “Part of a healthy diet is vegetables and fiber, and so we would like patients to know that dramatically increasing the amount of vegetables and fiber in their diet can be beneficial for colon health.”
Frey said it’s never too early to invest in colon health. Adding on, if colon cancer is in your family history, you may be advised to get screened before the recommended age of 45.
“We know people who have a family member who’s had colon cancer, definitely those people are more at risk because of that family history,” Frey said. “So we generally recommend getting colon cancer screened a bit early and typically the rule of thumb is about 10 years before that family member was diagnosed.”
Frey said colon cancer typically begins as palms between the ages of five and 10 before turning into cancer.
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