Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men and women combined. When colorectal cancer is found and treated in the early stages, the cure rate can be as high as 90 percent. Unfortunately, only 37 percent of colorectal cancers are found at that early stage. That's why regular screenings are essential.
Screenings can help detect colorectal cancers at an early stage, when treatment is more likely to be successful. For early detection of colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends that men and women at average risk begin screenings at age 50. Individuals at high risk should begin screenings at an earlier age.
There are several types of colorectal screening tests available:
- Digital rectal exam
- Occult blood test
- Sigmoidoscopy Colon/rectum x-ray
Talk to your physician to determine a screening schedule that's most appropriate for you.
Who's at Risk
There are certain factors for colorectal cancer which cannot be changed. These include: family or personal history of colorectal cancer, personal history of intestinal polyps or chronic inflammatory bowel disease, or being older than 50. There are other possible risk factors for colorectal cancer that can be changed. A diet low in fat and consisting mostly of vegetables, fruits and grains is associated with reduced risk of colorectal cancer. Regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight may also help reduce colorectal cancer risk.
Warning signs of colorectal cancer may be similar to symptoms caused by other conditions, such as infections, hemorrhoids, and inflammatory bowel disease. That is why it is important to see your physician, who can determine the cause of these symptoms. Contact your physician if you experience: a change in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days; a feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so; rectal bleeding or blood in the stool; cramping or steady abdominal pain; decreased appetite; weakness or fatigue; or jaundice.
Individuals with colorectal cancer have access to leading-edge diagnostic and treatment services at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center and Morris Hospital. Both hospitals offer surgical treatment and inpatient care for cancer patients and are accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. In addition, patients have access to the region's most advanced treatment options, including outpatient chemotherapy, as well as internal and external radiation therapy, through Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center's Sister Theresa Cancer Care Center, where a team of radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, surgeons and other medical and clinical specialists work together to develop an individualized treatment plan for each cancer patient.
If you are age 50 or older or if you are at high risk for colorectal cancer, talk with your physician about the type of screening that is most appropriate for you. It could save your life.
A special acknowledgement to the American Cancer Society.