Colorectal Cancer: It's Preventable!
March 20, 2019
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Because it is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in both men and woman, it is important that everyone is aware of this cancer. According to American Cancer Society, the estimated number of new colorectal cancer cases is said to be 101,420 cases of colon cancer and 44,180 cases of rectal cancer.
The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is:
- 1 in 22 for men
- 1 in 24 for woman
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer or rectal cancer, is cancer that can start in either your colon or rectum. The two are grouped together due to the fact they are so very close to each other on the human body.
It is important to note the function of the colon and rectum to understand how serious this type of cancer is. The colon’s primary function is to absorb water and salt from a person’s remaining food matter after it goes through the small intestine. The rectum’s functions start when the waste matter has left the colon and into the rectum (the final 6 inches of the digestive system) where it will stay until it passes.
How can you get colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer can start with your doctor finding polyps (a growth) on the inner lining of either your colon or rectum. Not all polyps are considered cancerous, and most will not turn into cancer until after years of being on your colon or rectum. When looking at growths, there are a few things to look for that can determine the likelihood of cancer.
- Larger than 1 cm
- More than two growths have been found
- If dysplasia (cells that look abnormal) occurs after polyps have been removed
There are two main types of growths that are commonly found in this region.
- Adenomatous polyps (adenomas) – These growths sometimes turn into cancer and are pre-cancerous.
- Hyperplastic polyps – Growths are more commonly found but are not considered cancerous.
Increased risk of getting colorectal cancer
You have a higher chance of getting colorectal cancer if:
- You have prior history of relatives who have had colorectal cancer.
- You have a history of adenomas.
- You had colorectal cancer, even though it was completely removed.
The chances of getting different cancers after colorectal cancer removed can be greater if you had the cancer removed at a younger age.
Risk factors that you can change
- Being overweight or obese
- Your risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer is higher for both men and woman.
- Studies have also shown it is a stronger chance in men than in woman.
- Physical inactivity
- Diets with higher levels of red meat (like beef, pork, lamb or liver) and processed meat (like hot dogs and lunch meats) will raise your chance in getting colorectal cancer.
- Smoking is linked to multiple cancers, but in this case, it has been shown that you are more likely to develop colorectal cancer if you smoke or used to smoke.
- Limiting alcohol use to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink for woman could have many health benefits – including reducing your risks for other cancers.
Prevention of colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer screening:
- Getting screened by your doctor means they have multiple techniques to examine your colon and rectal to look for cancer or pre-cancer.
- This is the Best method of prevention.
- Screening should become regular if you are 45 or older.
Managing the risks is a great prevention method of colorectal cancer.
Statistics about colorectal cancer
- Colorectal cancer is expected to cause close to 51,020 deaths during 2019.
- The death rate for colorectal cancer (number of deaths per 100,000 people a year) has been dropping in both men and woman for several decades.
- Treatment for colorectal cancer has greatly improved over the last few decades.
- Deaths from colorectal cancer among people younger than age 55 have increased 1 percent per year from 2007 and 2016.
- There are more than one million survivors of colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer is a serious form of cancer and has claimed the lives of many loved ones. It is easy to help prevent getting colorectal cancer by bettering yourself and scheduling a colorectal screening today. To make an appointment with a local provider, visit www.huronregional.org/find-a-doc.
Source: American Cancer Society
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