At age 53, John Andretti was the picture of health – still fit from a career in Motorsports, swearing he would always race again and never officially retiring. He was the last person anyone expected to receive a cancer diagnosis, but in January of 2017, his colonoscopy came back positive for cancerous polyps. His diagnosis made him face the decision of either fighting the disease privately or announcing it to the public. He decided that, although this diagnosis is devastating, he would use it to bring awareness to the disease, advocating for proper screening and early detection. Thus, the #CheckIt4Andretti movement was born and has continued to save many lives by encouraging others to get colonoscopies. John fought hard throughout his three year battle with the disease, taking back days the doctors said he would never have. He was a fierce and fearless competitor against the ruthless disease, undergoing major surgeries, multiple rounds of chemotherapy and numerous clinical trials. On January 30th, 2020 John lost his battle to cancer. Although his fight is over, ours continues on. His legacy lives on through his family, friends, and fans. We are motivated to continue inspiring others to get the early screening and detection. Everyday, we are inspired by John’s fierce drive and commitment to helping others. We are determined to save lives while ensuring his legacy lives on.
If you are 45 or older, consult your doctor about getting screened. It can never be too early but it can be too late!
Lowering the Age for Insured Detection
Currently, the U.S Preventative Task Force recommends getting screened at age 45, but it is becoming more and more common to be diagnosed with Colon Cancer at a much younger age. So, why not get screened earlier? Right now, insurance may not cover a colonoscopy before age 45 unless you are experiencing symptoms. Even if insurance pays for the procedure, the deductible leaves many people unable to cover the cost, leaving even those with symptoms unable to pay for a procedure that could save their life. Hence, it has become our mission to lower the age that insurance covers colonoscopies – because everyone deserves the chance to fight.
When Should You Get Screened?
Right now it is recommended that everyone schedule their colonoscopy at age 45, however, it is becoming more common to be diagnosed with Colon Cancer at a younger age. It is important to know the symptoms and any risk factors that could make you more likely to be diagnosed with the disease. The truth is, the earlier the better, no matter what age you are. Cancer does not discriminate based on age, even if you have no risk factors. Know the symptoms, know the facts, and be proactive.
Think You’re Too Young?
Unfortunately, Colon Cancer can be seen in people as early as 20 years old. Data even shows that death rates are rising in younger populations and decreasing in those over 50. Even with this data, Colorectal Cancer is misdiagnosed approximately 15%-50% of the time in young patients, leading to a delay in proper treatment. The American Cancer Society says that, since 1994, Colorectal Cancer has seen a 51% increase in those under age 50. Even though colonoscopies are continuing to become more common, death rates for individuals under 55 are continuing to rise. Therefore, it is extremely important to be educated about prevention and risk factors no matter how old you are.
There are many factors that may put you at a higher chance of getting Colon Cancer, although many of these risks can be lowered by simple lifestyle changes. Knowing your specific risk factors are incredibly important in both prevention and early detection.
These risk factors include family history, ethnicity, poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol use, age, and weight.
Family History & Ethnicity
If you have a family history of the disease, your chances of being diagnosed with Colon Cancer are greater. Racial background and ethnicity also play a large role; African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews are more likely to develop the disease. If any of these apply to you, check with your physician because you may need to get your colonoscopy at a younger age.
Those who are older, especially above the age of 45, have an increased risk of Colon Cancer. It is important to know, however, that Colon Cancer can be diagnosed at any age and is becoming more common in younger individuals.
Smoking and Alcohol Use
Smoking and alcohol have both been strongly tied to Colon Cancer. If you want to lower your risk, it is important to be conscious of your alcohol consumption and to quit smoking. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation if you have questions or concerns.