When it comes to cancer, every second counts ⏱️
Although March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, it's crucial to remember the importance of colon cancer screenings throughout the entire year.
Colorectal cancer is the second most common leading cause of cancer-related deaths and the third most diagnosed cancer in the US. The American Cancer Society estimates a diagnosis of about 145,000 new cases of colorectal cancers in the year 2021.
Colonoscopy has been the gold standard of screening tests for colon cancer for over three decades now. Screening saves lives by preventing cancer and finding cancers early. Death rates from colorectal cancer have been dropping over the last 20 years largely due to these screenings. Because not enough people are getting screened, only about 4 in 10 are being diagnosed at an early stage. Early-stage cancer detection has a 5-year survival rate of 90%.
With the onset of the global pandemic of COVID-19 infection since early 2020, there has been a dramatic decrease in patient utilization of health care facilities for inpatient and outpatient care. One specific consequence of this has been a decline in cancer screenings. Any delay in diagnosis could have a major impact on the 5-year survival rate for patients.
Studies from the US and UK have shown that in the early stages of the pandemic, screening colonoscopies had dropped to as high as 90% from the previous compared years. If the trend continues, it is estimated that it would lead to nearly 19,000 fewer diagnoses of colorectal cancer, and 4,000 increased deaths nationwide in the US.
KMC Gastroenterology is committed to the fight against colon cancer, as we strongly believe prevention is better than a cure. We recommend for all our patients to schedule their colonoscopies as soon as possible.
Written by Dr. Balaji Datti