Dr. Sheev Dattani, M.D.

Dr. Sheev Dattani, M.D.

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While everyone’s attention is rightly focused on the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, we shouldn’t overlook another serious health risk that everyone needs to be aware of. While we practice social distancing, it’s important to take care of your health; make sure to get enough sleep, eat well and continue to exercise. The coronavirus pandemic will, ultimately, subside and life will return to normal.

However, this year in the United States an estimated 148,000 adults will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer — 700 in our state alone — but did you know colorectal cancer is almost totally preventable by routine screening examinations?

The American Cancer Society recently recommended that adults without a family history should begin colorectal cancer screening at age 45. When cancer is detected and treated in the earliest stages, between 80-90% of colorectal cancer patients are restored to normal health.

Did you know that the most common “symptom” is no symptom? Since there are very few symptoms associated with colorectal cancer, regular screening is essential. Screening is beneficial for two main reasons:

1. Colorectal cancer is preventable if polyps that lead to cancer are detected and removed.

2. If detected in early stages it is curable, often with surgery alone and no additional treatment needed.

Did you know that colorectal cancer rates are increasing in patients younger than 50? Despite the improvements in the overall new colorectal cancer rates, a study from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) Program colorectal cancer registry found that the new cases of patients younger than 50 years have been increasing. The unsettling part of this is that we do not presently know why.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. Don’t delay! Talk to your provider about getting your colonoscopy and prevent this disease with routine follow-up screening, healthy diet and exercise —and make sure that after COVID-19 you’ll have a use for all that extra toilet paper.

Dr. Sheev Dattani, M.D. is a Colorectal Surgeon at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.

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