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 obesity
- Family history of cancer of the colon or rectum
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease including Ulcerative Colitis
or Crohn’s disease
- Personal history of polyps in the colon or rectum
- Hereditary 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.