Colorectal Cancer is fairly common and affects approximately 103,000 people in the US every year. It is the 4th most common cancer affecting both men and women equally. The best prevention is routine screenings. When identified in the early stages it is very responsive to treatment. A combination of several treatments including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation may be recommended to offer the best chance of survival.
Colorectal Cancer has no known cause. A number of risk factors may contribute to the likelihood of a person developing the disease. Consider genetic testing if there is a family history.
Risk factors that play a role in the development of colorectal cancer are:
- Age - Colorectal cancer is most common in people over 50
- Diet - Eating foods high in fat and low in calcium, folate, and fiber
- History of Polyps - Polyps can develop into cancer if left untreated
- Family History of Cancer - There appears to be a genetic link
- History of Inflammatory Bowel Disease - Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis
In the early stages there may be no symptoms. As the cancer develops you may experience:
- Changes in bowel movements such as diarrhea or constipation
- Blood in stool
- Abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, or gas
- Unintentional weight loss 10lbs
- Weakness or fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
You should not wait until you have symptoms to be checked for colon cancer! It can be prevented if polyps are identified and removed early. You should schedule your colonoscopy:
- At age 50 and then once every 10 years if no polyps are found
- At age 45 or sooner if you have a family history, history of polyps, or are of African American decent
- If polyps are identified your doctor may recommend follow up colonoscopies as often as every 3-5 years.
Treatments and Procedures
Depending on the stage of the cancer, treatment may be a combination of approaches, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Surgery is usually advised to reduce the risk of the tumor advancing or coming back. A colorectal surgeon may advise removing part of your colon to either make you free of the disease or prevent the need for further treatment. After surgery, you may be advised to have chemotherapy to kill any cancer cells remaining. Radiation may be recommended for recurrent or aggressive cancer. Every case is different and your medical team will personalize your care based on your individual needs.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (623) 423-0822.