Screening, Early Detection Key To Effective Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer found in men and women in this country, not counting skin cancers. In 2008, it was estimated that there would be 108,070 new cases of colon cancer and 40,740 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States and the cancers combined would cause approximately 49,960 deaths.

However, through screening and early detection, colorectal cancer can be effectively treated. "Colorectal cancer is a disease that can be prevented through regular screenings, a healthy diet and regular exercise," explained Summa Health System colorectal surgeon Frederick A. Slezak, M.D.

To lower your risk of colorectal cancer, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons provides the following recommendations:

* Undergo regular colorectal cancer screenings after age 50.

* Stick to a low-fat, high-fiber diet.

* If you consume alcohol, make sure to do so only in moderation. If you use tobacco, quit. Alcohol and tobacco in combination are linked to colorectal cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers.

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* Exercise for at least 20 minutes three to four days each week. Moderate exercise such as walking, gardening or climbing steps may help in preventing the disease.

Since there are very few symptoms associated with colorectal cancer, regular screening is essential. Screening is beneficial for two main reasons: colorectal cancer is preventable if polyps that lead to the cancer are detected and removed, and it is curable if the cancer is detected in its early stages.

"In most cases, colorectal cancer requires surgery for a complete cure, sometimes in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy," said Dr. Slezak. "Between 80 and 90 percent of patients are restored to normal health if the cancer is detected and treated in the earliest stages. However, the cure rate drops to 50 percent or less when diagnosed in the later stages."

The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age. All men and women aged 50 and older are at risk for developing colorectal cancer, and should be screened. Some people are at a higher risk and should be screened at an age younger than 50, including those with a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease; colorectal cancer or polyps; or ovarian, endometrial or breast cancer.

Each person should ask their primary care physician for more information.

However, the cure rate drops to 50 percent or less when diagnosed in the later stages."

The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age. All men and women aged 50 and older are at risk for developing colorectal cancer, and should be screened. Some people are at a higher risk and should be screened at an age younger than 50, including those with a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease; colorectal cancer or polyps; or ovarian, endometrial or breast cancer.

Each person should ask their primary care physician for more information.

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