Colon Cancer – Prevention Is The Key!


Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In Maryland, colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

Several modifiable factors have been shown to increase the risk of colon cancer. These factors include the consumption of processed meats, limited vegetable and fruit intake, obesity, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption (more than one drink per day for females and more than two per day for males) and smoking. Risk factors outside of a person’s control include being male, advancing age, race, inflammatory bowel disease, and a family history of colon cancer and/or colon polyps.

Along with a healthy lifestyle and diet, the most effective way to prevent terminal illness from colon cancer is early detection and treatment of precancerous and cancerous lesions. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening from ages 45 to 75 years old for those at average risk (no underlying bowel disease, family history of colon polyps/cancer, etc.). The American Society of Clinical Oncology categorizes screening methods as those that detect polyps and cancer (colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, barium enemas, virtual colonography) and those that primarily detect cancer (stool samples looking for blood and/or polyp DNA).

The goal of a colonoscopy is to detect and remove polyps (growths of tissue) before they can grow and turn cancerous. Colonoscopies have been shown to result in removal of polyps in up to 35% of cases on average, with a predominance in men to women of 41% and 31% respectively. A large, randomized trial in April 2023 found that colonoscopies were the most effective method studied, with a 73% mortality reduction. The reduction in mortality was best seen in those patients who had their screening at the earliest recommended age and were adherent with the recommended time intervals between screening.

The development and impact of colon cancer can be greatly reduced with colorectal cancer screening. For optimal health, it is essential that you meet with your gastroenterologist or primary provider to discuss when you should start screening and which method is right for you!

Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates (AAGA) has been a pillar of the local health care community for over four decades, diagnosing and treating all symptoms and diseases associated with the GI tract (esophagus, stomach, small bowel, colon), pancreas, liver and gallbladder.

AAGA includes 10 physicians and five midlevel providers who are all taking in new patients and are excited about caring for the community. Its main office is located in Annapolis, and AAGA has satellite offices located in Greenbelt, Odenton, Bowie, Pasadena and Kent Island. Visit or schedule an appointment by calling 410-224-2116.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here