Is colon cancer really preventable?

This question was asked in Irvine, California on 02/22/2012.
I'm looking for more information as to the best ways to prevent colon cancer. Unfortunately, colon cancer runs in my family and my grandfather nearly died of colon cancer in his 60s. Will getting a colonoscopy help prevent colon cancer? I haven't been screened yet and am in my mid 30s. Any information you can provide would be very helpful.

Doctors Answers (4)

Dale Prokupek, M.D.
Answered on: 2/23/2012

Thank you for this excellent question. Colon cancer is definitively preventable! With your family history you should have a colonoscopy at age 50 or 10 years before your family member was diagnosed with colon cancer. In the skillful hands of an experienced colonoscopist, your risk of getting colon cancer should approach zero. The way colonoscopy prevents cancer is that most cancers begin as precancerous polyps which can be seen and removed during a colonoscopy thereby prevention colon cancer! Good luck.

Eric Hill, M.D.
Answered on: 2/23/2012

Yes, for the most part, colon cancer is preventable. 90% of colon cancers arise from polyps, growths of tissue in the colon. Performing a screening colonoscopy can detect and remove these polyps at an early stage, thus preventing the progression to colon cancer. A single colonoscopy can decresae the risk of getting colon cancer by ~70%. Also, this is a hereditary condition, so given your family history, you may want to speak to a physician regarding colon cancer screening. Thanks for the question.

David Myles Nolan
Answered on: 1/18/2012

Great question - the short answer is yes, if you get screened appropriately for colon cancer, even with a strong family history it is preventable.? The reason is that colon cancer starts as small polyps, which if caught early can be removed before they have a chance to become full blown cancer.? When to start screening is the main question - the general concensus is to start 10 years before the age of the youngest relative with the disease or the age of 50, whichever is sooner.

Shahram Javaheri, M.D.
Answered on: 1/16/2012

Colon cancer can be prevented by getting routine colonoscopies. Polyps must be removed during colonoscopy in order to be identified as cancerous or not. Secondly, dietary recommendations must be taken into account. Vegetables, brans, fruits, cereal and a high-fiber diet have been shown to reduce colon cancer risk in studies. Other studies suggest that baby aspirin, Folate, and calcium can also reduce the risks associated with colon cancer.