Colon health might not be the conversation topic of choice around the dining table, but Emanuel Medical Center is hoping to start a discussion on the potential life-threatening disease.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and EMC wants people to know colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable.
Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. By looking at past years, the American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 101,420 new cases of colon cancer and 44,180 new cases of rectal cancer diagnosis this year.
Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the
rectum, and can be classified as colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on
where they start. Most colorectal cancers start as a growth, called a polyp, on
the inner lining of the colon or rectum.
“Many lifestyle-related factors have been linked to colorectal cancer,” said Dr. Mohamed Eldaly, Medical Oncologist at Emanuel Cancer Center. “The links between diet, weight and exercise and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer.”
Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the best ways for preventing colorectal cancer. With regular screening, most polyps can be found and removed before they have the chance to turn into cancer.
“Men and women, if you’re age 45 or older, you should start getting screened for colorectal cancer. However, we are seeing an increase in colorectal cancer cases that are impacting patients in their 20s and 30s,” Dr. Eldaly said. “The reasoning for this increase may be related to dietary changes. For example, high fat diets from an early age alter bacteria in the intestines that may predispose to cancer. The same occurs with low fiber diets – meaning lacking fruit and grains – which may alter the healthy bacteria in the intestines.”
There are currently no formal screening guidelines for colorectal cancer patients in their 20s and 30s, except in the instance of a strong family history, history of intestinal polyposis or a known genetic mutation. However, a genetic DNA test may be an alternative screening.
cancer might not cause symptoms right away, but if it does, it may cause one or
more of these symptoms:
➢ Change in bowel habits that lasts more than a few days
➢ Feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one
➢ Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
➢ Cramping or abdominal pain
➢ Weakness and fatigue
➢ Unintended weight loss
“It’s important to know many of these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than colorectal cancer, such as infection or irritable bowel syndrome,” Dr. Eldaly explained. “Still, if you have any of these problems, it’s important to see your doctor right away. Early screening and detection of colorectal cancer is crucial.”
To take a free online health risk assessment for colorectal cancer, visit EmanuelMedicalCenter.org/our-services/health-assessments or call (855) 819-5294 to find a physician and schedule a screening, if you are 45 years or older.