News from The American Cancer Society SCV Unit – March 2017
Colorectal cancer is not a topic that most people actively talk about. But with March being National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, let’s turn up the dialogue. The third leading cause of cancer death in men and women within the United States, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death for both sexes combined. While increased colorectal cancer awareness and screening saves lives each day, less than six in 10 adults between the ages of 50 to 75 are actually current on their testing.
Polyps Be Gone!
Colorectal cancer most often begins as a particular overgrowth of tissue, a polyp, within the inner lining of the colon or rectum. (However, many polyps found and removed are not cancerous.) Detecting the presence of abnormal polyps and early cancers is the key to timely treatment with curative success. Over the last decade, colon cancer rates in adults 50 and older have dropped by 30 percent thanks to widespread use of colonoscopy, which identifies these growths and enables their removal.
Who Needs Testing
The American Cancer Society recommends that adults – particularly those 50 or older, or anyone with a history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps, family members with the disease or other colon problems, or other risk factors –learn about this disease, then proactively discuss it with their doctor and take the appropriate action. Per the ACS, adults age 50 and older with an average risk for colorectal cancer should use one of the screening methods below:
• Tests used to detect polyps and cancer include: flexible sigmoidoscopy; colonoscopy; double contrast barium enema; and CT colonography.
• Tests that may find cancer include: guaiac-based fecal occult blood test; focal immunochemical test (FIT); and stool DNA. (Colonoscopy should be done if these tests are positive.)
Note: A digital rectal exam is often done by the doctor to find masses or other anal or lower rectum abnormalities. This test is not a stand-alone screening for cancer.
Those who tend to forgo screening can include people without health insurance, those of low income or education, adults age 50-64, men, Hispanics, American Indian or Alaska natives, persons in rural areas, and those within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community (due to their greater risk for developing cancer because of unique social, economic and structural factors).
80 Percent by 2018
A lifesaving campaign currently promoted by the American Cancer Society and other cancer-related organizations is the “80 Percent by 2018 Screening Goal.” This push for reaching 80 percent of the population in need of colorectal cancer screening and their getting the needed exams and treatment could lead to 200,000 fewer colon cancer deaths in under 20 years and prevent 277,000 new cases. The patient focus for this initiative is on adults without colorectal cancer symptoms, which can include: A change in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of stool lasting more than several days; a feeling of urgency for having bowel movement but not feeling relieved by doing so; rectal bleeding; cramping or abdominal pain; weakness and fatigue; and/or unintended weight loss. Note: Colorectal cancer is often found after symptoms appear, but most people with early colorectal cancer are asymptomatic.
Now that you’ve read this colorectal cancer primer, it is our hope that you will talk with your doctor and then decide together if colorectal cancer screening is something you should schedule. Proper testing and treatment can save 50,000 lives each year, perhaps even yours or someone you love.
The “Official Sponsor of Birthdays,” the American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. The ACS provides online information about all cancers, treatments, programs, services, research, support, the 20 by 2018 Campaign and more. Visit their website at cancer.org.
Call the ACS SCV office at 661-298-0886 option 3. Address: 25020 Avenue Stanford #170, Valencia, 91355. You may also call the American Cancer Society 24/7 at 800-227-2345.
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