Sentara Martha Jefferson HealthWise: Colon Cancer Awareness Month

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, which is why the Charlottesville Gastroenterology Associates of Sentara Martha Jefferson are bringing it to people's attention this month.

Contrast Adjusted Photo: A Healthier Michigan / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Colon cancer is generally caused by genetic inheritance, but there are other risk factors such as smoking, high-fat diets, obesity and infections.

While colon cancer can lead to death, Dr. Daniel Pambianco says that it is 90-percent preventable with early detection.

That means getting a colon screening.

"It allows not only the detection but the removal of polyps,” Pambianco said. “So, this is early detection of cancer, but it is also the preventative standard. It is the gold standard in colon cancer prevention."

These polyps can become cancerous within five to ten years, though some even sooner than that.

That is why Pambianco says it is important to start getting colonoscopies once you turn 50.

"It requires taking a day off, it requires taking a prep for cleansing, it requires being sedated. However, we've made vast improvements in making this exam easier,” he said. “So, it's an investment in your health, but also the advances have made it much more pleasant to undergo a relatively unpleasant examination."

For more information on the Charlottesville Gastroenterology Associates and how to schedule an appointment, check the Related Links box.

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