Colorectal Cancer Awareness MonthheadingContent
March is colorectal cancer awareness month and we are trying to raise awareness of this potentially life-threatening disease, which can be a preventable and very curable disease if caught early.
Colorectal cancer is the fourth most commonly occurring cancer in the United States and nearly five percent of Americans will develop it in their lifetime. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in United States, with over 56,000 people expected to die from this disease each year. At any time, over 1 million Americans can be living with colorectal cancer.
Because there are often no symptoms when first developing colorectal cancer it can only be caught early through a regular screening. The benefits of early detection and treatment are dramatic; the possibility of curing a patient after symptoms develop is only 50 percent. However, if colorectal cancer is found and treated at an early stage, before symptoms develop, the opportunity to cure is 80 percent or better. Most colon cancer starts as a non-cancerous growth, called polyps. If we are able to find these polyps while they are still non-cancerous, we can remove them, the cancer may be prevented and major surgery may be avoided.
The American Society of Colorectal Surgeons, which is dedicated to advancing the treatment of patients with diseases affecting the colon, rectum and anus, supports the following colorectal cancer screening guidelines:
People at an increased risk for colorectal cancer includes those with a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, those with a history of breast, uterine or ovarian cancer or those with chronic ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
For people that have an average risk of getting colorectal cancer, a digital examination and a fecal occult blood test, which screens for hidden blood in the stool, are recommended annually beginning at the age of 50.
A colonoscopy, which is a test that allows the physician to look directly at the lining of the entire colon and rectum, is recommended, once every 10 years for people at the age of 50 and for patients at a higher risk for colon cancer.
- Avoid foods that are high in fat
- Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and other high fiber foods
- Exercise regularly and maintain a normal body weight
- No smoking
- Drink alcohol only in moderation