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    Tomorrow Can’t Wait

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | March 6th, 2022

    Tomorrow Can’t Wait

    March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know…

    • In 2022, an estimated 151,030 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
    • Colorectal cancer rates are increasing in younger people.
    • One in 24 people will develop colon or rectal cancer in their lifetime. Both cancers are highly treatable if caught early.
    • In the U.S., Black people are about 20% more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 35% more likely to die.
    • Screening for colon cancer now starts at age 45. Insurance companies are required to cover screening for colon cancer at age 45.

    Tomorrow can’t wait – we need to be proactive. Colorectal cancer is highly preventable. When found early, it is treatable. We can PREVENT colorectal cancer by getting screened. Tomorrow can’t wait.

    There are screening tests available. Doing something is better than doing nothing. If you are afraid of getting a colonoscopy, you can get the stool DNA test if you are at average risk. The only stool DNA test I know about goes by the trade name Cologuard®. To understand the best screening test to get based on your risk factors, please take this quiz. I took the quiz, and it took less than 5 minutes. Tomorrow can’t wait.

    If you are younger than 45 years old, you probably do not think you need to do anything. I would still take the quiz because, depending on your personal or family history, you might need to be screened earlier than age 45.

    What can we all do to decrease our risk of getting colorectal cancer?

    1. Eat well – You want your diet to be high in vegetables and fruits. Avoid processed meats like hot dogs, ham, bacon, and sausages. Try to reduce the amount of red meat you eat. Try to keep red meat intake to 18 ounces (cooked) per week or less.
    2. Get your exercise – Research consistently shows that adults who increase their physical activity, either in intensity, duration, or frequency, can reduce their risk of developing colorectal cancer by 30 – 40 percent.
    3. Avoid alcohol and cigarettes – People who regularly drink 3.5 drinks per day have a 1.5 times the risk for developing colorectal cancer as nondrinkers or occasional drinkers. If you choose to drink, try to limit your consumption. Long-term cigarette smoking is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

    Colorectal cancer is preventable. When found early, it is treatable. If you need to be screened, call your doctor today to get your screening test – Tomorrow can’t wait.

    Information for this blog came from the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, whose primary mission is to end colorectal cancer.

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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    Secure Your Copy of Letters to My Sisters by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.

    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.

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