by Leon Henderson-Maclennan, M.D., FACP and
Alexis Peraino, M.D., FACP
Each year, medical professionals dedicate March to colorectal cancer awareness to help educate people on how to prevent and lower their risk of being diagnosed with this type of cancer. Contrary to belief, colorectal cancer is not just a “Men’s disease”. Approximately 135,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the United States each year and of that population 47% are female.
At California Health & Longevity Institute we prioritize knowledge and prevention and would like to share some information with you this March to keep you informed on Colorectal Cancer prevention.
How does the cancer form?
Colorectal cancer begins with cells in the colon or rectum growing out of control.
Can colorectal cancer be prevented?
Yes, if a pre-cancerous polyp is found during a colonoscopy it may be removed thereby stopping the cancer before it starts.
How can I lower my risk of developing colorectal cancer?
– Maintain a healthy weight and body composition throughout life
– Maintain recommended amounts of physical activity
– Avoid a sedentary lifestyle
– Eat at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and fruits each day
– Choose whole, unrefined grains
– Limit red and processed meat intake
– Limit alcohol intake
– Do not use tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars
Can you screen for this type of cancer?
Yes, for those with average risk, the American Cancer Society recommends beginning screening at age 50. Many people should begin screening earlier, especially those with a family history of any type of cancer or those with inflammatory bowel disease, genetic predisposition, or type II diabetes.
How is it detected?
Often this cancer arises from a polyp that may be detected by a colonscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, double-contrast barium enema or CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy). Cologuard (genetic stool study) may also aid detection. It is important to consult with your physician to understand which screening method is best for you.
As everyone is a unique individual with various potential contributors to risk it is imperative to consult your physician in order to obtain individualized recommendations.