Good news, colorectal cancer is a highly treatable and often a curable disease. Bad news, hardworking executives fail to find the time to schedule the necessary colonoscopy. It is important to find the time because it is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men & women. Therefore, screening & early detection are essential.
The Parts: The colon and rectum are part of the body’s digestive system.
The Types: Most colorectal cancers develop from precancerous polyps or growths that arise from the lining of the colon. There are two types of polyps, adenomatous (pre-cancerous) and hyperplastic (non-cancerous). Adenomatous polyps typically have a slow progression to cancer, usually taking at least 10 years.
Who is at Risk:
Increasing age – the average person has a 5% lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer, and 90% are in people older than 50.
Lifestyle factors – a diet high in fat and red meat and low in fiber, a sedentary lifestyle, cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and obesityFamily history of cancer of the colon or rectumPersonal history of inflammatory bowel disease including Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s diseasePersonal history of polyps in the colon or rectumHereditary conditions including familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and hereditary nonpolyposis cancer (HNPCC, Lynch Syndrome)Personal history of cancer of the colon, rectum, ovary, endometrium, or breast
When to Screen: All adults should begin screening at 50 years of age. If you have a close relative with colorectal cancer, you should begin screening at 40 years of age or 10 years younger than the earliest diagnosis in your family. Strategies for screening include: colonoscopy every 5-10 years and stool testing every year to look for occult blood.
When to be Seen More Often: Blood in the stool or a change in bowel habits. Other signs and symptoms may include diarrhea, constipation, frequent gas pain, bloating, unexpected weight loss, fatigue, or vomiting.
Colorectal Cancer and Your Family: Having colon or rectal cancer means that your family may be at an increased risk of developing it as well. Genetic tests may be helpful in families with specific patterns of multiple cancers.
Your Executive Physician will review your medical and family history and personal risk factors to determine if it is time for your colonoscopy. We can even schedule the appointment for you.
Above all, early detection and treatment allows colorectal cancer to be highly treatable, yet the initial steps begin with you.
By David R. Bloom, M.D.