March is colorectal cancer awareness month. Colorectal cancer is one of the biggest killers in the United States, but it is a treatable disease as long as it is caught early. One of the main reasons that so many people die of colorectal cancer is because there are no easily visible symptoms, as the cancer occurs internally, in the colon or rectum. By the time the cancer is detected, it is often too late for treatment.
In order to protect oneself against colorectal cancer, it is important to get screened on a regular basis. During your screening any potential cancerous growths can be removed.
Colorectal cancer is actually a more common cancer than people think, being more common than lung, breast and prostate cancers.
Here is some more information about colorectal cancer.
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon, or the rectum. The colon is also known as the large intestine and forms part of the human digestive system. The colon turns waste food that the body cannot process into fecal matter. The rectum is at the end of the colon. It is where fecal matter is stored until it is time for the body to expel it.
How Does Colorectal Cancer Develop?
During a human’s lifetime, polyps will develop within the colon and rectum. These are small, abnormal growths. Most polyps are harmless, but some can turn cancerous. Cells begin to divide abnormally, leading to growths and tumors. These tumors affect the normal functioning of the human body, leading to illness and potentially, death.
How Many People Develop Colorectal Cancer?
It is estimated that around 140,000 people each year develop colorectal cancer, although not all colorectal cancers are fatal, as just over 50,000 people will actually die from the disease.
If caught early enough, colon cancer is treatable and non-fatal.
How is Colorectal Cancer Detected?
If external signs of colorectal cancer are detected, such as blood in fecal matter, then it is possible that the cancer is too far-developed to be treatable. The best way to prevent fatal colorectal cancer is via screening. During a screening a camera is passed into a patient’s anus so that the rectum and colon can be examined. During the examination anything abnormal that is observed will be dealt with, either then and there or at a late date. Any polyps will be removed before they have the possibility of turning cancerous.
Is Screening Painful?
Not at all. During the screening patients are relaxed and often sedated, and many remain unconscious throughout the entire experience. The removal of polyps is not painful either.
When Should I Be Screened?
Most physicians recommend that screening begin at age fifty, and is then repeated every ten years. You may be recommended to have more regular screenings if there is a history of colon cancer in your family. Patients who have had colorectal cancer in the past are required to have screenings every two years or so to help prevent the return of the disease.
Make it a Point to Schedule Your Colon Screening
With March being Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, now is as good a time as ever to schedule your colon screening. Early detection is key to avoiding colon cancer, so why make it a point to schedule your screening as soon as possible? If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to our team at Great Lakes Gastroenterology at (440) 205-1225.Leave a reply