4 Tips to protect your colon

is the third most common cancer in both men and women in
the United States, and the third leading cause of cancer death.

Colorectal cancer develops in the colon or rectum, and grows slowly.
In 2014, there will be an estimated 141,000 new colorectal cancer
cases in the United States and 49,000 related deaths.  But colorectal
cancer is preventable and curable when detected early.

Here are my top four tips to help lower your risks for colorectal cancer.

Tip 1: Get screened for colorectal cancer

remains the most important method to prevent colorectal cancer. People
at average risk, age 50 and older, should get a colonoscopy every 10
years. A colonoscopy
enables your doctor to detect potentially cancer-causing lesions or
polyps early, and remove them.

Tip 2: Don’t be afraid of the exam 

Patients shouldn’t fear a colonoscopy. It’s a straight-forward
procedure which doesn’t, in most cases, cause discomfort. It also has
a very low complication rate. And, knowing what is going on in your
colon could save your life.

Tip 3: Prep the right way for a colonoscopy     

Most people complain about the laxative
preparationIt requires that you drink a
large volume of liquid that generally doesn’t taste very good.
However, we now split the liquid into two doses. You drink one the
night before
the exam
and the second four to six hours before the exam. And,
there have been efforts at improving the taste.

The laxative procedure is very important. It ensures that your colon
is completely clean for your exam. And, a clean colon means your
doctor can spend more time carefully examining you.

Tip 4: Plan for what happens next

Prevention doesn’t stop once you’ve had a colonoscopy.
You and your doctor need to discuss what happens next.  Your doctor
can create a personalized screening plan for you based on your risk.
That way, you can get screened at intervals that are effective for you.

You can learn more about how to
successfully prepare for your next colonoscopy and get colorectal
cancer prevention tips in

on Health

, MD Anderson’s online healthy
living newsletters.

You can also help us raise awareness for colorectal cancers and
celebrate survivors at MD Anderson’s SCOPE 5K Fun Run, Saturday, March
22. Get information on registering and event details at www.mdanderson.org/scope.