Colon cancer rates declining among older Americans

Amarillo, TX - The third most common form of cancer is starting to drop in frequency.

According to a new study, the rate of colon cancer has dropped by 30 percent among adults 50 years and older in the last decade. The American Cancer Society said colonoscopies are to thank for the declining rate of colon cancer, and doctors agree. They say the screenings allow them to detect and remove precancerous growths before they actually cause cancer.

"In 2001, there was a huge initiative from the US government to get colonoscopies done as screenings for anybody over the age of 50," said Dr. Amit Trehan of the Amarillo Endoscopy Center. "As a result, there's a huge decline in the numbers, a 30 percent decrease, and it's mostly patients above age 65 who have really come and got the screenings done."

Today Medicare and most insurance companies cover the full cost of the procedure. Although there has been a decrease in colon cancer, there's still room for improvement when it comes to the number of people getting screened. That's why the American Cancer Society is starting a new awareness campaign to increase screenings for people 50 and older.

"Today kicked off the initiative called 80 percent by 2018," said American Cancer Society representative Jason McCoy. "Right now, more than 1 in 3 people are not getting screened."

To help raise awareness locally, the Amarillo Endoscopy Center is hosting its 3rd annual Colon Cancer Awareness Run this Saturday at 9 am. The center is raffling off 30 free colonoscopies at the run.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10