WICHITA FALLS, TX–Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, and the American Cancer Society predicts more than 51,000 Americans will die from this disease this year alone. To prevent this from happening, doctors like Joshua Stagg are encouraging more people to get colonoscopies. For the past two years, Dr. Stagg says the prevalence of colon cancer is being found in the most unlikely of patients. 

“Colon cancer occurs in the general population: about 5% of the general population over your lifetime,” said Dr. Stagg, “…but what we are finding over the last few years is that colon cancer is being increasingly diagnosed in younger people, meaning in people below the age of 50.”

There are certain factors that can increase the risk of colon cancer, like old age, tobacco use, eating too much red meat, not getting enough fiber in your diet, obesity and family history. 

“If you are aware of colon cancer in your family that is a big deal,” Dr. Stagg said. “Our recommendation now is if you have a first degree relative who was diagnosed with colon cancer below the age 60 that mean you have to start your screening at age 40 and then you should not go any longer than every five years of having a colonoscopy.”

According to Dr. Stagg, colonoscopies have come a long way in the age of modern medicine, especially when it comes to preparing for one. 

“20 years ago most of the preps we had were large volume preps, and that means we were having you drink 4 liters of medicine that tasted like seawater. Nowadays we have people do a split prep and that’s where they drink a smaller amount of liquid, maybe 8 to 16 ounces the evening before and do it again the morning of.”

Dr. Stagg the point of this prep is to cause the patient to have a large amount of diarrhea which cleans out the colon and gets out all the solids, so that when we they conduct a colonoscopy, they can see clearly and don’t miss any important details. 

“We looking for cancer and we’re looking for polyps,” said Dr. Stagg, “…30 to 40% of our patients wind up with a colon polyp that is receptacle meaning we can take it out at the time of the colonoscopy. There are times rarely when we find the polyp is not receptacle, meaning it’s too big to take out at the time of the colonoscopy or it’s cancerous, and those two situations we rely on our surgeons to help us.”

For those still apprehensive about getting their personal bubble popped, Dr. Stagg says, “It is a very low risk procedure. The odds of something bad going during a colonoscopy are very low, and the benefits over having a colonoscopy are very very high.”

If you’d like to schedule a colonoscopy today with Wichita Falls Gastroenterolgy Assoiciates, click here.