Colorectal Cancer Month

Every March, the team at Comprehensive Cancer Centers honors National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and its mission to encourage everyone to take the disease seriously by getting screened.

This month, we want to remind those at age 50, that it’s time to include colon and rectal (colorectal) cancer screenings to annual health checkup regimens, and for those with family histories of cancers, it’s best to make primary physicians aware as soon as you meet with them, at any age, so they can make sure to monitor potential risks.

According to Colorectal Cancer Alliance, in 2021 approximately 149,500 people will be diagnosed, and 52,980 people will die from colorectal cancer. African Americans have the highest incidence and mortality rates. According to American Cancer Society, U.S. African Americans are about 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and about 40% more likely to die from it than most other groups.

While rates are declining for people over the age of 55 and have dropped by 3.6% each year, rates for people under the age of 55 are increasing 2% per year. Additionally, the average lifetime risk getting colorectal cancer for men is 1 in 23 and for women 1 in 25, making it the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women combined and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the U.S. The median age of diagnosis of rectal cancer is age 63 for men and women. For colon cancer, the median age of diagnosis for men is 68 and age 72 for women.

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer refers to cancer in the colon and/or rectum, or both. As the graphic below shows, the colon is part of the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus. Most colorectal cancers develop first as polyps, which are abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may later become cancerous if not removed.

Colorectal cancer is very treatable for patients by the physicians at Comprehensive Cancer, when it is discovered early. Even if it spreads into nearby lymph nodes, surgical treatment followed by chemotherapy is very effective. In most advanced cases, when cancer has spread to the liver, lungs, or other sites, treatment can often make surgery an option, and can prolong and add to quality of life. Research is constantly being done to learn more and provide hope for people in all colorectal cancer stages, with the cancer one that Comprehensive has conducted break through clinical research to help bring new therapies to the patients.

How Do You Detect Colorectal Cancer Early?

With a better understanding of the cancer, the question then becomes how to best take charge of one’s personal health to reduce risks, and ensure early diagnosis and treatment for the best outcomes.

We want to remind our patients that their personal health is something that should be top of mind, not only during times like National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, but all year long. In order to best accomplish taking charge of your personal health, you’ll want to establish strong communications with your physician so they can identify potential issues as soon as possible.

Below are some guidelines on when to get tested, and how to best work with your primary physician or oncologist to ensure optimal outcomes:

  • As noted, beginning at age 50, men and women should each ask their doctor to start testing for polyps and cancers. Screening may need to be integrated to your testing protocols at an earlier age, based on factors including your health and family history and colorectal cancer symptoms that may already showing. It’s critical that doctors know everything including any past health issues, and family history, so they have a complete picture to set up the right screenings.
  • If there are reasons to look further into a patient’s health, based on age, family history or potential symptoms, tests for polyps and cancer may be recommend and can include a colonoscopy that is normally recommended every ten years. Every five years, patients should get a CT colonography, and flexible sigmoidoscopy and double-contrast barium enemas according to their doctor’s guidelines. If there is a personal history of cancer, a family history of cancer, shorter intervals between screenings may be recommended.

Should your physician refer you for more tests, or treatment for colon cancer, we can help.  Treatment options are different for each person, but depending on colorectal cancer complications, some cases may require surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada Can Help

Physicians at Comprehensive provide a variety of treatment options for patients with colon cancer in Nevada, including CyberKnife. The practice also offers groundbreaking clinical research for those who are eligible. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.

 

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.