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Bill Clinton decreed March as National Colon Cancer Awareness Month in February 2000. Since its dedication, the colon cancer community, which comprises thousands of patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates, has spread colon cancer awareness by wearing blue, holding fundraising and education events, talking to friends and family about screenings and so much more. While awareness efforts are made year-round, they become more pronounced come March.Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among cancers that affect both men and women. About 140,000 Americans are diagnosed each year and more than 50,000 people perish from it annually. The numbers are worrisome but there is good news: colon cancer is largely preventable and beatable.

Reducing risk is about making lifestyle changes. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; drink alcohol in moderation; stop smoking; exercise most days of the week; and, maintain a healthy weight. Making these changes is even more imperative as you age since colon cancer risk increases with age.

Since lifestyle changes are never a 100% guarantee for averting colon cancer, frequent screenings remain critical from age 50 and beyond. Screenings are the top colon cancer prevention method because they find the cancer in the early stages, or before it even has the chance to beget and mature.

Colon cancer begins as a slow-growing, small growth in the colon. These growths are initially pre-cancerous (known as polyps), however can turn into cancer over time. Upon turning 50 you should have a screening every 10 years or so. More than 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people aged 50 and older. Don’t wait for symptoms to start showing, as precancerous polyps don’t always show symptoms – though symptoms do include blood in or on the stool, persistent stomach pain, aches, or cramps, sudden loss of weight without knowing why.

Memorial Healthcare’s Gastroenterology Center is offering Saturday appointments for patients requiring a colonoscopy screening on March 18 and April 22 in recognition of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. To further encourage you, Owosso’s Wrought Iron Grill and Greg and Lou’s are offering discount coupons for individual who undergo a colonoscopy procedure at the Gastroenterology Center in March. Wrought Iron Grill is offering a 25% discount off a lunch menu item and Greg and Lou’s is offering 20% off a meal (coupons are good through April 30).

Memorial’s Gastroenterology Center possesses the latest digital equipment and an Endoscopy Lab that is one of the most advanced in Michigan. More than 4,200 endoscopy patients are served each year at Memorial Healthcare.

Let Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month galvanize you if you’re due for another screening or ready for your first one. It’s a potentially life-saving effort. Contact your primary care provider today to schedule a colonoscopy