If you don’t have time to read this blog on colorectal cancer, do take the time to look at this informative and humorous video from Israel about screening colonoscopy. Click Here To View Video
Colorectal cancer is a disease in which cells in the colon or rectum become abnormal and divide without control, forming a mass called a tumor. Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of non-skin cancer in men (after prostate cancer and lung cancer) and in women (after breast cancer and lung cancer). It is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States after lung cancer. Although the rate of new colorectal cancer cases and deaths is decreasing in this country, an estimated 141,210 new cases of colorectal cancer and 49,380 deaths from this disease are expected to occur in 2012.
Risk of Developing Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is more likely to occur as people get older. Although this disease can occur at any age, most people who develop colorectal cancer are over age 50.
Polyps are abnormal growths that protrude from the inner wall of the colon or rectum. They are relatively common in people over age 50. Most polyps are benign(noncancerous), but experts believe that the majority of colorectal cancers develop in polyps known as adenomas. Detecting and removing these growths may help prevent colorectal cancer.
A person who has already had colorectal cancer is at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer a second time. Also, research studies have shown that some women with a history of ovarian, uterine, or breast cancer have a higher than average chance of developing colorectal cancer.
Close relatives (parents, siblings, or children) of a person who has had colorectal cancer are somewhat more likely to develop this type of cancer themselves, especially if the family member developed the cancer at a young age. If many family members have had colorectal cancer, the chances increase even more.
Ulcerative colitis is a condition that causes inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the lining of the colon. Crohn colitis (also called Crohn disease) causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, most often of the small intestine (the part of the digestive tract that is located between the stomach and the large intestine). People who have ulcerative colitis or
Crohn’s colitis may be more likely to develop colorectal cancer than people who do not have these conditions.
Some evidence suggests that the development of colorectal cancer may be associated with high dietary consumption of red and processed meats and low consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Some evidence suggests that a sedentary lifestyle may be associated with an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. In contrast, people who exercise regularly may have a decreased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Increasing evidence from epidemiologic studies suggests that cigarette smoking, particularly long-term smoking, increases the risk of colorectal cancer.
Why screening is important? Screening is checking for health problems before they cause symptoms. Colorectal cancer screening can detect cancer; polyps; nonpolypoid lesions, which are flat or slightly depressed areas of abnormal cell growth; and other conditions.
Screening Methods Your doctor may suggest one or more of the following tests for colorectal cancer screening: Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) checks for hidden blood in fecal material (stool). The guaiac FOBT, uses the chemical guaiac to detect blood in samples of stool.
Colonoscopy—examines the colon using a lighted instrument called a colonoscope. During colonoscopy, precancerous and cancerous growths throughout the colon can be found and either removed or biopsied. This procedure is usually done in the doctor’s office or in an ambulatory treatment center. Most patients are sedated during the procedure.
Bottom Line: People should talk with their health care provider about when to begin screening for colorectal cancer, what tests to have, the benefits and risks (potential harms) of each test, and how often to schedule appointments.