What is Colorectal Cancer?
- Almost all cases of colorectal cancer also referred to as colon cancer, begin with the development of benign colonic polyps.
- Polyps form when cells lining the colon grow, divide and reproduce in an unhealthy, disorderly way, producing a growth.
- These polyps can be cancerous, invading the colon wall and surrounding blood vessels, and spreading to other parts of the body.
- Colorectal cancer frequently begins without symptoms.
What Causes Colorectal Cancer?
- The exact causes of colorectal cancer are unknown, but the disease appears to be caused by both inherited and lifestyle factors.
- Diets high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables – such as those that include red meat, fried foods, and high-fat dairy products – may increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
- Lifestyle factors –such as cigarette smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and obesity – also may increase the risk of developing the disease.
- Genetic factors may determine a person’s susceptibility to the disease, whereas dietary and other lifestyle factors may determine which at-risk individuals actually go on to develop the disease.
How Common is Colorectal Cancer?
- Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, and the third most common cancer overall.
- This year, more than 50,000 Americans will die from colorectal cancer and approximately 131,600 new cases will be diagnosed.
- Eighty to 90 million Americans (approximately 25 percent of the US population) are considered at risk because of age or other factors.
- More women over the age of 75 die from colorectal cancer than from breast cancer.
Who Is At Risk?
- Men and women aged 50 and older are at almost equal risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Those who have a personal or family history of colorectal neoplasia (cancer or polyps) are at high risk of developing the disease.
- Anyone who has a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, is also at high risk.
- Although the incidence of colorectal cancer appears to be the same among all racial groups, survival rates seem to be lower for African-Americans.
You are at average risk for colorectal cancer if you:
- Are age 50 or older and have no other risk factors.
You are at increased risk for colorectal cancer if you:
- Have a personal history of Colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps.
- Have a family history – one or more parents, brothers and/or sisters, or children – of Colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
- Have a family history of multiple cancers, involving the breast, ovary, uterus, and other organs
- Have a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease
Other factors that increase your risk of developing Colorectal cancer are:
- A diet that is low in fiber and high in fat (and high in red meats)
- A non-active lifestyle
Colorectal cancer often begins without symptoms. However, there are a number of warning signs; if you are experiencing any of the following conditions please contact our office immediately:
- Rectal bleeding
- Cramping pain in your lower abdomen
- Weight loss without dieting
- Change in your bowel movements, especially in the shape of the stool (e.g., narrow like a pencil)
- Discomfort in or the urge to move your bowels when there is no need
- Constant fatigue
- Blood in your stool (bright red, black, or dark)
- Frequent gas pains
What You Need To Know…
- Early detection saves lives – colorectal cancer is preventable, even curable when detected early.
- If colorectal cancer is found early enough, the patient has more than a 90 percent chance of survival.
- Colorectal cancer screenings are safe and effective and are now covered by Medicare and an increasing number of other health providers.
- Several screening methods can be used to detect polyps before they become cancerous, such as fecal occult blood test, colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and barium x-ray. These tests also can detect cancer in its early stages.
- Colon cancer rates have fallen by 30% over the past decade in people over age 50 due to increased awareness
How Can You Prevent Colorectal Cancer?
- Know your family history.
- Maintain a diet low in animal fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and fiber.
- Exercise regularly.
- Prevent obesity.
- Avoid cigarette smoking.
Avoid Colon Cancer: Get Screened! Request an appointment today
Info from the American Gastrological Association