It’s March and that means a lot more than bracket busters and the final four. It’s colon cancer awareness month. It’s true; it doesn’t sound as exciting… But oh man, is it! Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in the US. This month signifies the leaps and bounds we have made in the fight against colorectal cancer. CRC incidence rates have been decreasing in the US for several decades, with the pace accelerating 3% annually from 2003-2012. From 1975 -2000 this was thought to be secondary to awareness being brought to modifiable risk factors (diet, exercise, smoking, etc.) as well as screening. The recent steep decline however, in individuals 50 and older is thought to be primarily due to the uptake of screening colonoscopies. The decline of CRC in those individuals has increased from 38% in 2000 to 59% in 2013. (Do I have your attention now?) This is the beginning of the battle but we cannot stop now! With every step that we have made going forward we have had new hurdles placed in front of us. Although we are winning the fight against colon cancer in individuals over the age of 50, more recent data suggests that CRC is increasing in the under age 50 group. The reason behind this is unclear but as we wait for further studies to shine a brighter light on this we have to keep awareness alive.
At Digestive Health we take colon cancer and its awareness very seriously. At the core of what we practice is our interaction with our patients. We evaluate every patient and assess their personal risk for CRC. We also have four Billboards up through the course of March to bring awareness to our community. We have also placed large blue ribbons at all of our locations as a reminder about colon cancer awareness.
As a practice, we not only use our knowledge to help patients but also try and give knowledge to enable our patients to recognize signs and symptoms early. After all “knowledge is power.” Here are some facts that may help you prevent colon cancer and also help you recognize signs and symptoms in yourself or those you love early.
- Although frequently colon cancer does not have symptoms; rectal bleeding, unintentional weight loss, and changes in bowel habits always warrants further evaluation
- Physically active individuals have a 25% lower risk of colon cancer then less active individuals
- Smokers have an increased risk of CRC
- If you have a first degree relative (mom, dad, brother, sister, son, daughter) who had colon cancer or colon polyps before the age of 60, you will require a colonoscopy earlier then the age of 50 as your risk of developing colon cancer at an earlier age is higher
- Higher consumption of red and/or processed meat increases the risk for colon and rectal cancers
- For every 10 grams of daily fiber consumption there is a 10% reduction in cancer risk
- CRC has been linked to moderate and heavy alcohol use. People who have a lifetime average of 2-4 alcoholic drinks per day have a 23% higher risk of CRC than those who consume less than 1 drink per day
- Over 60% of colon cancer deaths could be avoided with screenings
Call our office today at 336-768-6211 to schedule your colonoscopy. With the proper knowledge and care this is a preventable cancer. Please help us spread the word.
Dr. Apsara Prasad