Colorectal Cancer Can Be Treated

Colorectal cancer can be treated, if you act in time. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 102,480 new cases of colon cancer and 40,340 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2013. 

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and is expected to cause about 50,830 deaths during 2013. Men and women suffer in almost equal numbers.

The five-year survival rate for people whose colorectal cancer is treated at an early stage, before it has spread, is greater than 90 percent. But only 39 percent of colorectal cancers are found at that early stage. Once the cancer has spread to distant organs (such as the liver or lungs), the five-year survival rate is less than 10 percent.

Studies have found eight risk factors for colorectal cancer:

  • Older than age 50. More than 90 percent of cases are diagnosed after age 50. The average age is 72.
  • Colorectal polyps. Polyps are growths on the inner wall of the colon or rectum. Most polyps are not cancer, but some can become cancerous.
  • Family history of colorectal cancer.
  • Changes in certain genes.
  • Personal history of cancer.
  • Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
  • Diet high in fat (especially animal fat) and low in calcium, folate and fiber.
  • Cigarette smoking.
Doctors recommend everyone begin screening for colorectal cancer at age 50, or earlier if you have any risk factors.

There are four common screening tests. Ask your doctor which test is right for you:
  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT). Sometimes cancers or polyps bleed, and the FOBT can detect tiny amounts of blood in the stool. Your doctor will give you this simple, noninvasive test to take home with you, so don’t forget to send it back to the lab when you’re done.
  • Digital rectal exam. A rectal exam is often part of a routine physical exam.
  • Sigmoidoscopy. Your doctor checks for and removes polyps inside your rectum and the lower part of the colon with a lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope.
  • Colonoscopy. Your doctor looks for and removes polyps inside the rectum and the entire colon using a long, lighted tube called a colonoscope.

Gwinnett Medical Center is committed to helping to prevent cancer as well as early detection, so you can get a free colorectal screening kit by calling 678-312-5000. If you or someone you know is suffering from cancer, click here to learn more about our accredited cancer services.


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