Letter: Women's Health Month is perfect time to take charge

May 20, 2011

The month of May has been designated as Women's Health Month to encourage women to take charge of their health. There is no better step that a woman over the age of 50 (or 45 for African-Americans) can take than to schedule a colonoscopy.

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths for women, but with early detection, it is 90 percent curable. And while mammograms and Pap tests are critical for the early detection of breast and cervical cancer, a colonoscopy can actually prevent colon cancer because colon cancer often starts as a benign polyp.

As a female gastroenterologist, I understand that there are many barriers that keep women from scheduling their colonoscopy. As the health care decision-makers in their families, women are often too busy to worry about their own health.

Many women also have concerns about modesty during their colonoscopy and what they perceive to be the invasive nature of the test. Just as perceptions and awareness about mammograms and Pap tests have improved over the years, we need to change the way that some women think about colonoscopy.

StopColonCancerNow.com is a national community of physicians committed to increasing colon cancer screenings and saving lives. If you are a women who meets the age guidelines or have other risk factors for colon cancer, schedule your colonoscopy and ask your physician about other health screenings that may benefit you. Taking the extra time to focus on yourself could save your life.

Dr. Lisa Pichney, Maryland Endoscopy Center

Towson

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