According to a report published in Cancer, colon cancer rates have fallen by 30 percent over the past decade in people over age 50.
"This is one of the great public health success stories of the decade," says Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer at the American Cancer Society, whose researchers wrote the report, published on Monday.
The reason for the drop in cancer rate? Preventive screenings.
Screening rates have climbed in recent years. The number of Americans ages 50 to 64 who have had a colonoscopy has nearly tripled, growing from 19 percent in 2000 to 55 percent in 2010.
Use of colonoscopy also rose among those age 65 and over, growing from 55 percent in 2000 to 64 percent in 2010, according to the new report.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The American Cancer society estimates that 136,830 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease this year and that 50,310 will die from it.
"Screening colonoscopies provide a very important way to decrease these statistics," said Dr. Ninad Shah, gastroenterologist with Community Physician Network. "We know that colon cancer develops from colon polyps. During a colonoscopy we look at the walls of the colon for polyps. By removing any colon polyps we remove the tissue that can develop into colon cancer."
Schedule a colonoscopy
A colonoscopy is the most thorough test for colorectal cancer. If you are over the age of 50, schedule a colonoscopy by calling 800-777-7775.