Colorectal Cancer Risk factors and Prevention

colonoscopy-524701836Colorectal cancer is a disease that causes abnormal cells or tumors to develop in the colon or rectum.  It is the third most commonly diagnosed type of cancer found in men and women in the United States.

Although colorectal cancer causes the deaths of approximately 50,000 people each year; the rate of survival is improving due to education, early detection and treatment.

Learning the risk factors of colorectal cancer is essential as there are risk factors you can control and some you cannot. The risk factors you can control include:

  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Poor diet – a diet rich in red meats and processed meats can increase your risk
  • Heavy alcohol consumption

These factors can be addressed by quitting smoking, exercising, eating a healthy and balanced diet and moderating your consumption of alcoholic beverages.

The factors that you cannot control that may contribute to colorectal cancer are:

  • Age- people over the  age of 50  have a higher risk in developing the disease
  • A family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
  • A personal history of colorectal polyps, colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Having an inherited gene defect  that can cause family cancer syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), Gardner syndrome, Turcot syndrome or Lynch syndrome
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Having type 2 diabetes

Knowing your risk factors and taking appropriate actions can help you to reduce the probability of developing the disease.

Although it is not completely clear what causes colorectal cancer; it can be prevented by receiving regular screenings. With regular screenings, polyps or colon cancer can be found and treated early before advancing.

There are several testing methods your doctor may use to screen for colorectal cancer. Screening tests may include a colonoscopy or other testing methods such as fecal occult blood test,   flexible sigmoidoscopy, CT colonography or double-contrast barium enema. The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women should receive screenings beginning at the age of 50.

For a complete guide to the American Cancer Society’s recommendations for colorectal cancer early detection, please visit https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/early-detection/acs-recommendations.html

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Colorectal Screening When to Go and What To Expect

colon-477645508Colorectal or colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths. However, the disease is highly treatable when discovered early. According to the United States Preventive Services Task Force, the recommended age for colorectal screening for men and women is between the ages of 50 and 75.

There are several factors that increase the chances of a person developing colorectal cancer, they include:

  • Family history
  • A low-fiber and high-fat diet
  • Heavy use of alcohol
  • Age- 50 and older
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • A history of inflammatory intestinal conditions
  • Race-African American ancestry

Your doctor may recommend a few screening options or perform the following procedures to detect abnormal growths or polyps:

  • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) – These tests are used by physicians to detect tiny amounts of blood that may be present in feces.
  • Sigmoidoscopy- A sigmoidoscope is used to examine the rectum and sigmoid colon. During the procedure abnormal growths can be removed for further examination or biopsies.
  • Standard colonoscopy- During this procedure the rectum and intestine are examined using a colonoscope. Samples of abnormal growths are also removed for analysis. This tool is able to remove samples from the upper part of the colon-which doctors cannot reach using a sigmoidoscope.

Other screening techniques such as Colorguard, double-contrast barium enema or virtual colonoscopy may also be utilized by your physician.

Scheduling routine screenings is the best method for preventative care but if you are displaying the following symptoms, it is advised that you see a physician right away:

  • A change in bowel movements (diarrhea or constipation) that persists for more than four weeks
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Rectal bleeding or bleeding in stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort such as cramps, gas or pain
  • Fatigue
  • A feeling that your bowel has not emptied completely

To schedule a colorectal screening appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-670-5486

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.