Colorectal Cancer: What you don’t know can kill you
Anthony Madrid, M.D., Board Certified Gastroenterologist, Medical Director, Aurora Endoscopy Center & Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology Associates, East Denver LIVING WELL Magazine
Did you know? Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. It is also the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States among men and women, approximately 51,370 deaths from CRC were expected to occur in 2010, accounting for almost 9% of all cancer deaths.
Historically, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for more than 20 years as a result of increased screening that allows more colorectal cancers to be found earlier when the disease is easier to cure. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), less than 50% of the at-risk population is getting screened, and approximately 42 million average-risk Americans have not undergone a validated screening test.
Thus, many more lives can be saved with screening. Colonoscopy is the most effective screening method for preventing colorectal cancer. This is because colorectal cancer’s beginning stages start with the formation of a polyp, or a mushroom-shaped growth that forms on the lining of the intestine. Polyps are usually benign, but some develop into cancer over time. The colonoscopy procedure allows a trained physician to not only detect these polyps, but also to remove them during the procedure, before any cancer in the intestine has a chance to develop or spread, effectively stopping cancer before it starts.
Colonoscopy is widely available and in most cases, covered by insurance plans. Preparation for the colonoscopy procedure requires fasting for 24 hours prior to the exam on a diet of clear liquids. The procedure lasts about 30 minutes and recovery is rapid.
The American Cancer Society recommends a colonoscopy every 10 years beginning at age 50 (age 45 for African Americans) as the preferred screening test for colorectal cancer. However, if a colonoscopy cannot be considered due to medical or insurance reasons, talk to your doctor about alternative screening tests.
Risk Factors for developing Colorectal Cancer:
¨ Age: More than nine out of 10 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are older than 50 years.
¨ Personal history of colorectal polyps
¨ Family history of colorectal cancer
¨ Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
¨ Lifestyle-related factors: include smoking, physical inactivity, obesity, heavy alcohol use, diets high in red meats, and type 2 diabetes
¨ Racial and ethnic background: African Americans and Jews of Eastern European descent are at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Important Facts about Colon Cancer:
¨ Each year, more than 150,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer
¨ One out of 18 people will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime
¨ More than 75% of people with colon cancer have no family history
¨ People who are diagnosed in the earliest stages of the disease have a 90% chance of being cured, yet only a small percentage are seen early due to a lack of screening or awareness
¨ Colorectal cancer strikes men and women equally and people of all ages and races
¨ The most common symptom of colorectal cancer is no symptom at all
Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology Associates:
The physicians at Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology Associates, PLLC, perform routine endoscopy, including colonoscopy and upper endoscopy at the Aurora Endoscopy Center, a state-of-the-art, fully accredited ambulatory surgery center, located at 14272 E. Evans Ave., Aurora, CO 80014 and at the Crown Point Surgery Center, located at the Parker Adventist Hospital at 9397 Crown Crest Blvd., Parker, CO 80138. The physicians also perform more specialized procedures in a hospital setting at The Medical Center of Aurora and the Parker Adventist Hospital. The practice also treats gastrointestinal and liver disease including inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, esophageal disease, viral hepatitis, irritable bowel syndrome and GERD.