How to Prevent Colon Cancer

March is colon cancer prevention month, and there are some guidelines that can help you stay clear of this serious disease.

Colon cancer is a preventable cancer if caught early; it is important to have regular screenings and follow-ups.

One in 22 men and one in 24 women may develop colon cancer in their lifetimes, according to the American Cancer Society. Colon cancer is the third leading diagnosed cancer and third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, but with a high quality colonoscopy you can decrease your risk by up to 90 percent.

Although the exact cause for polyp formation and colon cancer is unknown, there are several risk factors that have been linked to the formation of the polyps.

There are genetic risk factors that individuals cannot avoid, such as family history and age. But there are others that can be changed. According to the American Cancer Society, reducing or eliminating the following risk factors can significantly reduce your risk of developing colon cancer: obesity, physical inactivity, diets high in red meats, smoking, and heavy alcohol use.

For most people, screening for colon cancer begins at age 50. Colonoscopies are recommended to begin at an earlier age if you have a family history of colon cancer or adenomatous polyps, or an inherited syndrome or personal history of inflammatory bowel disease. 

When you need a gastroenterologist, look for one with an excellent adenoma detection rate or ADR- the higher the number, the better. This is a method to measure the accuracy and effectiveness of the physician. An acceptable ADR is 25 percent.

North Country Gastroenterology's Dr. Howard Mitz's 2017 ADR rate was 49 percent. Click here to learn more about NCG's colonoscopy statistics and facts.

North Country Gastroenterology offers colonoscopies and other services to patients in the Littleton, Lancaster, Woodsville, Plymouth, and North Conway areas.

North Country Gastroenterology brings attention to Colon Cancer Awareness month

LITTLETON—March was Colon Cancer Awareness month, a disease that affects over 140,000 Americans annually. North Country Gastroenterology (NCG) is on a mission to reduce those numbers.

NCG’s Dr. Howard Mitz revealed, “Colon cancer can affect anyone, even if there’s no family history of it.” He continued, “Older people are more at risk, which is why we recommend screening every ten years starting at the age of 50.”

According to many organizations, screening is the most effective way to prevent colon cancer from developing or finding cancer in an earlier stage.  Colon cancer does not have symptoms until late stages.

Screening performed through a colonoscopy, a virtually painless procedure that examines the inner lining of the large intestine and colon using a thin, flexible tube. Along with finding polyps and tumors, colonoscopies help doctors find ulcers and areas of inflammation or bleeding.

According to an article from the American Journal of Gastroenterology, it cites five articles stating that gastroenterologists are more effective than surgeons and primary care physicians at preventing colorectal cancer by colonoscopy. “We strive for a clinical setting that’s not intimidating,” explained Dr. Mitz. “While we utilize hospital grade equipment and are set-up like one, we’re located in a former residential home. When designing the office, we strived to maintain the building’s charm and comforts, which many of our patients have described as ‘homey.’”

NCG has also made the process of scheduling a colonoscopy hassle free through their open access program, which allows patients to be evaluated over the phone. Patients’ first appointment is their colonoscopy, which saves them time and money. NCG’s patient-first efforts are working.

 Dr. Mitz estimates he has performed over 12,000 colonoscopy procedures throughout his career, and can perform several a day while keeping to an individual approach to each patient.

The staff at NCG works as a team, noted Dr. Mitz. They monitor the digital screen alongside him to ensure a thorough procedure. “We strive for accuracy, not quantity,” noted Dr. Mitz. We’re not a production line.”

To schedule your appointment with North Country Gastroenterology, call (603)444-0272 or visit