Colon cancer awareness

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CENTRAL FLORIDA —

It's the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country and one of the most preventable.

March is colon cancer awareness month.

WFTV reporter Racquel Asa spoke with a group of physicians who said catching it before it even starts is the best defense.

Dr. Rafael Fleites with Advanced Gastroenterology and Surgery Associates said he has performed 30,000 colonoscopies in his career, and to this day, he still considers it one of the best preventive care measures.

Not only can the procedure detect the disease, but it can catch it before it even starts.

"If there are polyps, we are able to remove them about 95 percent of them, and by doing that you decrease the chance of getting cancer," said Fleites.

Doctors said two out of 100 people over the age of 50 will develop the disease.

Experts said the risk is slightly higher in men, especially in African-Americans and also in patients with a family history.

Dr. Garth George is also with Advanced Gastroenterology and Surgery Associates in the Villages, and he said part of reason 102,000 new patients will be diagnosed with the disease this year is because they put off screenings.

George said that one patient he recently examined just had his first screening, but he was five years overdue.

"He has cancer that had already spread, but if he had his colonoscopy at age 50 as he should have, he wouldn't have colon cancer today," said George. "I would say if you are going to procrastinate, don't procrastinate more than one year."

Doctors recommend a colon cancer screening every 10 years once you turn 50, unless your exam indicates otherwise.