Colorectal cancer is the fourth most commonly occurring cancer in the United States and nearly five percent of Americans will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime. This year, approximately 140,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 56,000 people will die from this disease. Yet, it is a highly preventable and treatable disease if caught early and an estimated 40,000 or more lives could be saved through screening and early treatment.
The good news is that colorectal cancer is preventable and very curable disease if caught early. Because there are often no symptoms when it’s first developing, colorectal cancer can only be caught early through regular screening.
The benefits of early detection and treatment are dramatic. Most colon cancers start as non-cancerous growths called polyps. If these polyps are removed while they’re still non-cancerous, cancer may be prevented. Major surgery can usually be avoided as well.
The colorectal surgeons at USA are experts in the surgical and nonsurgical treatment of colon and rectal problems and play an instrumental role in the effective screening, prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer. Studies have shown that patients treated by colorectal surgeons are more likely to survive colorectal cancer because of their advanced training and the large number of colon and rectal disease surgeries they perform.
Get Screened for Good Health
The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) recommends the following colorectal cancer screening guidelines:
• For people at average risk of getting colorectal cancer, a digital rectal examination and fecal occult blood test, which screens for hidden blood in the stool, are recommended annually beginning at age 50.
• Flexible sigmoidoscopy (a test that allows the physician to look directly at the lining of the lower colon and rectum) is recommended every 5 years at age 50 or older.
• A colonoscopy (a test that allows the physician to look directly at the lining of the entire colon and rectum) every 10 years or a barium enema (x-ray of the colon) every 5 to 10 years are acceptable alternatives. ·
• People at increased risk for colorectal cancer include those with a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, those with a personal history of breast, uterine or ovarian cancer, and those with chronic ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.
• Increased risk patients may need earlier and more frequent screening depending upon the recommendation of their healthcare provider.
Lower Your Risk
Regular screening for colorectal cancer is important, but you can also help lower your risk by:
• Avoiding foods high in fat
• Eating vegetables, fruits and other foods high in fiber
• Maintaining a normal body weight and exercising regularly
• Not smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation