Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates in 2018 there will be 97,220 new cases of colon cancer and 43,030 new cases of rectal cancer with 50,630 deaths during 2018.
The good news? If everyone age 50 and older were screened regularly, 6 out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is a cancer which begins in the colon or rectum. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they share common features. A polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum is usually where colorectal cancer begins. There are two main types of polyps:
- Adenomatous polyps: These polyps sometimes change into cancer. They are called a precancerous condition.
- Hyperplastic polyps or inflammatory polyps: These polyps are more common but are not pre-cancerous.
Cancer which forms in a polyp can eventually grow into the wall of the colon or rectum.
Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors
Lifestyle related factors have been linked to colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society says, “Some of the links between diet, weight, exercise and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer.” Those lifestyle related factors include being overweight, physical inactivity, a diet high in red meats and processed meat, smoking and heavy alcohol use.
Making changes to your lifestyle can decrease your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Eating a diet high in vegetables, fruits and whole grain fibers have been linked with a lower risk of colorectal cancer. Increasing physical activity levels and maintaining a healthy body weight can also reduce risk.
There are some risk factors which cannot be changed. The risk of colorectal cancer goes up as you age – becoming much more common after the age of 50. Other unchangeable risk factors include a history of polyps, cancer, type 2 diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease. African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer rates of all racial groups in the United States and Jews of Eastern European descent have one of the highest colorectal cancer risks of any ethnic group in the world.
Screening saves lives
Screening for colorectal cancer can save lives. One common screening is a procedure known as a colonoscopy. Colonoscopies are regularly performed at Newman Regional Health. The colonoscopy is performed by a surgeon, either Dr. Tim Harris or Dr. Matthew Turner, and lasts approximately 30 to 60 minutes. Medication is given to make you feel relaxed and drowsy while the doctor uses a colonoscope to examine the lining of the colon.
Beginning at the age of 50, men and women with an average risk for developing colorectal cancer should have a colonoscopy.
Talk to your provider
If you are 50 years old or have a high risk for developing colorectal cancer talk with your medical provider about screening options. At Newman Regional Health, we strive to provide high quality health care for all of our patients. We have been recognized as one of the Top 10 Hospitals in Kansas and one of the Top 50 Critical Access Hospitals in the United States. Most recently, we have been awarded as a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the United States for the third year in a row. Let us take care of your healthcare needs! Request an appointment through our website or give us a call: 620-343-6800 to meet with your provider to discuss colorectal cancer screening today. For a list of Newman Regional Health providers click here.