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Take Charge of Your Colon Health

Only half of Americans who are age-eligible to have a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer undergo the potentially lifesaving procedure, according to Peter McWhorter, MD, a colon and rectal surgeon at Greenwich Hospital.

Colonoscopy remains the gold-standard method to screen for colon cancer because physicians can remove suspicious polyps – even tiny ones – during the procedure to determine if they are cancerous.

An at-home screening test may be an option for healthy individuals who have no symptoms and no family history of colon cancer. But this method doesn’t detect small, early precancerous polyps, so individuals who receive a positive result with the kit will still need to have a colonoscopy, said Dr. McWhorter.

Diet can also impact colon health. “A healthy diet of nutrient-dense foods rich in fiber can help prevent hemorrhoids and diverticulitis by keeping the walls of the colon strong,” said Susan Pritchard Downie, RD, a dietitian at Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center in Greenwich. “Research also shows that eating whole grains and other fiber-rich foods can decrease the risk of colon cancer.”

To learn more about colon health, check out the March events during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.