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Thoughts on Preventative Medicine (2 of 3)

Posted: February 23, 2014 at 10:43 am by

Last week, I discussed some basic things that everyone should do to make sure their body is in working order BEFORE they experience a problem. This week, let me delve further.

Ever since Ronald Reagan was president (and was dx with colon cancer), we have heard a lot about this disease. It is fairly common – about 6% of men and 4% of women will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetimes. Moreover, screening colonoscopies can generally prevent the disease from developing. Colon cancer is caused when a colonic polyp (generally a villous adenoma) becomes malignant.

The good news is that colonoscopy is less of a “big deal” than it used to be. With the advent of short-acting anesthesia (e.g. propofol) you can sleep right through your colonoscopy – then wake up and go right back to work. Polyps can be removed during the procedure – which prevents colon cancer from developing. Current recommendation is to have colonoscopy performed every 10 years, if you are at average risk. If there is a family history of colon cancer, screening every 5 years is generally recommended.

We have all read and heard a lot about cholesterol. Alhough I will cover this topic in more depth at a later time, I will say that the current recommendation is to screen for high cholesterol every 5 years. The medications available to treat high cholesterol are varied and most have minimal side effects, so making the diagnosis is important.

Then there are those screening tests that are relevant only to men or only to women. Let’s get into a couple of those next week.

Posted in: Blog