09, Mar 2021
Colorectal cancer takes more lives than most realize.
Every year, more than 140,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 die of colon cancer in the United States, according to the CDC.
We must make every effort to get the word out and work together to make a difference.
Sometimes abnormal growths, also known as polyps, form in the colon and rectum. Some colorectal polyps may turn into cancer over time.
Screenings help detect such polyps and even colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment works best.
Risk factors of colorectal cancer include familial adenomatous polyposis, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), family or personal history of colorectal cancer, and hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).
Other lifestyle factors that may contribute to an increased risk of colorectal cancer include lack of regular physical activity, overweight, obesity, tobacco and alcohol consumption.
Efforts should be made in minimizing a high-fat diet or a diet high in processed meats and maximizing a high-fiber diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Studies have shown that taking low-dose aspirin can help prevent colorectal cancer in some adults, depending on age and risk factors.
The U.S. Multi-Society Task Force of Colorectal Cancer (MSTF) recommends screenings should begin at age 50 in average-risk persons.
However, recently the American Cancer Society has published recommendations to begin colon screenings at age 45 years in the average-risk patient population.
Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer may remain asymptomatic at first. That is why screening strategies are essential for colorectal cancer.
Changes in bowel habits, weight loss, blood in your stool (bowel movement), persistent abdominal pain, aches or cramps are some of the symptoms of colorectal cancer.
Precancerous polyps and early-stage colorectal cancer do not always cause symptoms. Colorectal cancer screening tests look for cancer in asymptomatic individuals. They can detect and remove precancerous growths or even early-stage cancers when they’re easier to treat.
There are a few colorectal cancer screening tests, each with its pros and cons.
Stool tests are noninvasive screening tests that can be done at home. It involves a collection of stool sample and is sent to a laboratory for further analysis.
A fecal immunochemical test (FIT) uses antibodies to detect hidden blood in the stool and is recommended to be repeated annually.
A guaiac-based fecal occult blood test detects blood in the stool, a possible sign of polyps or cancer. It is also recommended to be repeated every year.
The stool DNA test (FIT-DNA) test, also known by the brand name Cologuard, looks for both blood and DNA mutations and is recommended to be repeated every three years. Abnormal results of any of these stool tests require a subsequent colonoscopy.
National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is held in March each year.
It offers healthcare providers a valuable opportunity to educate their community about colorectal diseases and promote a deeper understanding of colorectal cancer screening, prevention and treatment.
Wear a blue ribbon and engage in conversations about colorectal cancer with family and friends.
Volunteer and raise money for advocacy organizations that work to advance research and treatments.
The most recommended way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is to be aware of the risk factors and get screened for colorectal cancer routinely. So, don't wait!
Dr. Sue Mitra is accepting new patients and can be reached at 321-622-6222. Call now to discuss your risk of developing colorectal cancer and ways you can lower those risks.
Dr. Sue Mitra and her staff strive to offer their patients the best care, advice and services available in the medical field with the goal to keep patient healthy & happy.
Dr. Sue Mitra is board certified in international medicine. She is seen here with a Cologuard, which is a noninvasive colon cancer screening test. (Photo by: Tim Shortt/Florida Today)