Archie's Message About Colorectal Cancer

March is an important month to me because it’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness month – which is something we all need to pay attention to and be aware of, especially those of us getting older. It’s the second leading cause of cancer deaths when you combine men and women, but the good news is – if you catch it early – the survival rate is almost 90%. I know no one likes to have tests run, but getting screened for colorectal cancer is something so important to me, I’m dedicating this month’s entire message to it.

It’s both encouraging and frustrating to know how curable this type of cancer is for people. It’s encouraging to know that if you find it in Stage 1, there’s only a 10% chance you won’t beat it. As you might imagine, I like winning odds. It’s frustrating though because only 4 out of 10 cases are found during Stage 1, per the American Cancer Society. Sadly, only a little more than half the people who should be screened for colorectal cancer go through with the process. Once colorectal cancer spreads outside the colon, surviving it becomes an entirely different ballgame. Stage 4 colorectal cancer only has an 11% survival rate. We can all agree we like the 90% survival rate much better than 11%! If you can avoid needing a Hail Mary when it comes to your health, you’ve found a winning game plan.

That’s where my colleagues at Thibodaux Regional Health System come in to the play. Thibodaux Regional has some of the latest equipment and test procedures to get you in and out fast, with as little discomfort as possible, and with the best results. Did you know it can take 10-15 years for a polyp to turn into cancer? Polyps start as benign growths, and then some become malignant, often for unknown reasons. Thibodaux Regional’s expertly trained staff and state of the art diagnostic equipment can help find those polyps as they’re beginning to form, so they can be removed before cancer cells ever start developing. The technology inside Thibodaux Regional is amazing! Typically, a colonoscopy takes about 30 minutes. I know it isn’t a pleasant thought, but, just like sitting in an ice bath after a game, the outcome is well worth the short period of uneasiness.

If you’re 50 or older, please consider getting a colonoscopy every ten years. That’s it – once a decade, if you don’t have high risk factors. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or other potential red flags, like inflammatory bowel disease, you may need step up your game when it comes to being vigilant.

Just like in sports, diet is an important component of a winning formula. Fruits, whole grains, and vegetables can help lower your risk of cancer, especially veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale. Luckily for us here in South Louisiana, fish is a great protein source that can help reduce your risk of cancer too, especially fish rich in Omega 3’s. Calcium, vitamin D and magnesium are other nutrients you should include in your lineup to lower your risk of cancer. A little can go a long way.

Archie Manning