MARCH IS COLORECTAL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
Colorectal Cancer is the 2nd most deadly cancer in the United States, but the good news is that it is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Yes, colorectal cancer can be prevented – not just detected – through colonoscopy.
Most colorectal cancers develop from polyps, which are abnormal growths in the colon. If polyps grow unnoticed and are not removed, they may become precancerous. The primary goal of a screening colonoscopy is to find and remove any abnormal growths or polyps. Because polyps may go through precancerous stages and eventually become cancerous, removing them during a colonoscopy eliminates the risk of polyp growth, thus preventing colon cancer. The development of more than 75-90% of colorectal cancer can be avoided through early detection and removal of pre-cancerous polyps.
“Screening is very important as most early colorectal cancers produce no symptoms,” emphasizes Dr. Mazen Albeldawi, an NCH Physician Group Gastroenterologist. He adds that the following symptoms do not always indicate the presence of colorectal cancer, but should prompt a visit with your physician:
- Blood in or on the stool
- Change in stool caliber or shape
- New onset abdominal pain
- A change in typical bowel habits, constipation, diarrhea
Dr. Albeldawi explains that although colorectal cancer can present at younger ages, it is most common after age 50. The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age and the lifetime risk of having the disease is roughly equal in men and women. Patients should start colonoscopy screening to prevent colorectal cancer at the age of 50 or age 45 if they are African American. It is generally recommended to get colonoscopies every 10 years, but as we learn more about the role of genetics predisposing certain populations to colon cancer, many people may need to be screened earlier and more frequently. Family history can be important in helping your doctor determine your risk of potentially developing cancer. Those who should be screened at an earlier age have a higher than average risk for developing colorectal cancer by virtue of:
- A personal history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
- A strong family history of the colorectal cancer
- Inherited forms of colorectal polyps or cancer
- Predisposing conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease)
|For more information on Colorectal Cancer visit www.nchmd.org. To make an appointment with Dr. Mazen Albeldawi call (239) 624-8070
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