March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Posted on: March 21, 2018

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer is classified as cancer of the colon or rectum.  There are more than 200,000 cases of Colorectal Cancer in the United States per year and millions more worldwide.  It commonly affects both men and women. According to the ACS or American Cancer Society it is estimated that approximately 1 in 23 women and 1 in 21 men will develop colorectal cancer at some point in their lives. It is highly recommended that you start getting screened for colorectal cancer at age 50. Learning about and understanding this disease, along with what we can do to prevent it is the first step toward raising awareness and finding a cure. Below we have outlined general information on Colorectal cancer, along with a few risk factors, tips for prevention and screening methods.

The majority of colorectal cancers start as a growth found in the lining of the rectum or colon, this growth is known as a polyp. There are two types or polyps that are more prevalent; adenomatous polyps and inflammatory polyps/hyperplastic polyps. It is important to know not all polyps are cancerous. Adenomatous polyps are considered pre-cancerous and may progress to cancer whereas hyperplastic/inflammatory polyps are more common and usually do not lead to cancer.

 

Risk Factors

Possible risk factors for colorectal cancer include the following:

  • overweight/obesity
  • a diet low in fiber
  • a family history of colorectal cancer
  • smoking
  • high level of alcohol consumption
  • older age
  • presence of polyps in the colon or rectum
  • diet high in animal proteins, calories and saturated fats
  • previous diagnosis of ovary, uterine or breast cancer
  • having ulcerative colitis, IBD (irritable bowl disease) or Crohn’s disease

 

Tips for Prevention

  • Maintain a healthy weight – Since being overweight raises the risk of not only colorectal cancer, but many cancers, proper weight management is one of the keys to your health
  • Regular exercise – Routine exercise has many benefits and can seriously lower the risk for developing colorectal cancer
  • Diet – Following a nutritious diet with fruit, vegetables, fiber, good quality carbohydrates and quality fats
  • Routine Screenings – Keeping up with regular screenings is a very important preventive measure for detecting cancer early

As mentioned above, routine screening and diagnostic procedures are among the first line of defense for early detection of colorectal cancer. Screenings allow polyps to be detected before they become cancerous or can detect cancer when it is in an early enough stage where the possibility of curing the cancer is significantly higher.  Here are a few of the most frequently used screenings:

Stool Tests

  • FIT (fecal immunochemical test) Antibodies are used to detect possible blood in the stool.
  • fGOBT (guaiac-based fecal occult blood test) This test uses a chemical called guaiac to find blood in the stool.
  • FIT-DNA Test (stool DNA test) This type of test can detect altered DNA in the stool.

CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy)

A computed tomography (CT) colonography is commonly referred to as a virtual colonoscopy. This test uses computers and x-rays to create images of the colon in its entirety.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

During this test, the doctor will insert a thin, flexible, short lighted tube into your rectum. They are able to check for polyps/cancer along the inner lining rectum and lower portion of the colon only.

Colonoscopy

This test is very comparable to the test mentioned above, the main difference is that the flexible, thin lighted tube used to check for polyps is longer. A colonoscopy is also frequently used as a follow up for finding something abnormal during one of the other screening methods.

The physicians of Suntree Internal Medicine are invested in your health and know just how significant preventive care is when it comes to early cancer detection. We are here for you every step of the way. Our office is conveniently located on Wickham road in Melbourne. Our office has extended hours every week day and are open on the weekends to accommodate your busy schedule. Make an appointment online or call today.