Everyone is at risk of the second leading cause of death from cancer in the U.S., according to Dr. William Farmer of Hattiesburg G.I. Associates. But, he said there is no reason anyone should live in the uncertainty of colon cancer and everyone should start with educating themselves about this disease.
"What a lot of people don't realize is, if you do have a family history of colon cancer, you're considered a high-risk person," Farmer said.
He said when it comes to colon cancer, having a conversation with your family could save your life.
"If your mom and dad had polyps in their 40s or 50s, or if you have a brother or sister that had a precancerous colon polyp early on, then that may mean that even though you are not 50, then you should have a colonoscopy done," Farmer said.
He added genetics and genetic diseases place some people at high risk, but he explained everyone is at risk especially those with certain lifestyles.
"Smoking, alcohol, being overweight, fatty foods, sometimes grilled, charred foods, red meats things like that can increase your risk of forming colon polyps and therefore colon cancer," Farmer said.
Farmer warned you can have no symptoms of colon cancer, which is why he encourages everyone to have a colonoscopy at age 50.
"We always think about people coming to have a colonoscopy at age 50 to find colon cancer, but even a bigger benefit than finding a cancer is finding people who have precancerous polyps that can be removed and that can prevent them from getting colon cancer altogether," Farmer said.
He said colon cancer is highly treatable when it's found early, so he recommended this.
"I would just encourage everybody to consider having a colonoscopy," Farmer said. "It's an easy test. It can save your life, it can also save your family's life."
Farmer said finding an early polyp in one family member is an indicator that other family members should get screened early. He said a doctor could find polyps as young as 30 and 40s.