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Men’s Health Month: Making Prevention a Top Priority

Jun 17, 2020

June is Men’s Health Month, and Father’s Day is this Sunday, a time for men to consider what they are doing to stay healthy. In addition to eating right and exercising, men need to make sure they’re up-to-date on important health screenings like colonoscopies. This month marks the perfect time to encourage the dad’s in your life to focus on health maintenance, preventative care and address common health issues like colon cancer.

“We know about 20% of the population between 50 and 80 are at risk for having colon polyps which are precursors for colon cancer,” said Dr. Kevin Claffey, Heartland Regional Board-Certified General Surgeon. “About 80-90 percent of colon cancers start with a polyp.”

It’s recommended that an average-risk patient get their first colonoscopy at 50 and repeat every 10 years after that. If there is family history of colon cancer, screening may begin at a younger age.

“I’ve probably done over 10,000 colonoscopies in my career,” said Dr. Claffey. “I’ve had the pleasure of helping prevent colon cancer because I’ve found polyps in fairly young people before they turn into cancer.” Even though a colonoscopy can lower your risk of dying from colorectal cancer, many dads are afraid of the procedure.

90% of colon cancers are preventable, but only about 50% of men who should have colonoscopies actually get them. One reason many give is fear of pain. Still, Dr. Claffey points out, “Most patients shouldn’t feel any pain because they’re placed under anesthesia. Often they wake up and ask: ‘When you are going to start?’ We tell them they are fine and ready to go to the recovery room.”

Fear of the coronavirus shouldn’t keep dad from scheduling an appointment either. A concerning number of patients are canceling or postponing preventative care procedures, such as physical exams, mammograms and colonoscopies. But at Heartland Regional, like facilities across the nation, enhanced safety precautions continue to be maintained including:

  • Visitation restrictions
  • COVID-19 screenings for all employees, visitors and patients
  • Designated care areas for non-COVID-19 patients
  • Disinfecting procedures

The best gift you can give dad is the encouragement for him to lead a healthy lifestyle all year round. Discussing a regular screening regimen with your primary care physician, where factors like family history and overall health history can be part of the conversation, is the best way to keep dad healthy.

To schedule a consultation with Dr. Claffey, call (618) 998-7155.