Colon Cancer Statistics and Early Detection. For Cheryl.

My friend Cheryl died yesterday from colon cancer. I hadn't seen her in years, we interacted very seldom on Facebook, but that doesn't matter.

When someone I know dies or gets sick, I try to do something. Something that can help others in some small way. A kind of therapy for me and a pay-it-forward that came too late.

We might not think about colon cancer too often, so let's do so for a minute.

  • In the United states, there are 93,000-130,000 new cases of colon cancer each year
  • The risk of you developing colon cancer is about 1 in 20 or 5%
  • 90% of new cases are diagnosed in people 50 years of age or older
  • Colon cancer is the third most common cancer
  • Death from colon cancer is the second highest among all cancers
  • If you have a parent or sibling with colon cancer, your chance of getting is is 2 to 3 times higher
That all sucks.

Here's the good news.
  • Early detection screenings are effective
  • When detected early (in the local stage), 5+ year survival rate is over 90% 
  • Because early detection success, there are over 1 million survivors in remission
(For more info try Colon Cancer Alliance or American Cancer Society)

However! Early detection only works if you are proactive and get the screening.

I think Cheryl would be okay with me saying this: you can't be afraid of your butt. Let your doctor look at your butt. Some ethnic and cultural groups have a higher colon cancer mortality rate in part because they don't get screenings. Sometimes due to health care coverage and other times due to embarrassment from someone checking out their butt.  

Now, Cheryl was 40. She was an outlier. Her cancer went undetected until it was quite advanced. Sometimes that happens and it sucks. And there isn't a 100% effective solution, but there is something you can do. It's the same core piece of advice that runs through most of my articles. 

Pay attention to your body. Be proactive with your physical maintenance. Sometimes no matter how proactive we are, shit just happens. But a lot of the time we can catch it. 

Cheryl, this song has been running through my head over the last day. I hope you like it.

Forever Young by Bob Dylan 
May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
May you stay forever young.