March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal Cancer, or Colon Cancer, is the second leading cause of cancer death. It occurs in the colon or rectum and takes the lives of more than 50,000 people per year, according to the Colon Cancer Alliance.
The good news is this: colon cancer is highly treatable if detected early. Early detection involves a surgical procedure called a colonoscopy, in which a flexible fiber-optic instrument is inserted through the anus in order to examine the colon. Most colon cancers develop first as polyps, which are abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that can later become cancerous if not removed. The Colon Cancer Alliance states, “even if it spreads into nearby lymph nodes, surgical treatment followed by chemotherapy is highly effective. In the most difficult cases – when the cancer has spread to the liver, lungs or other sites – treatment can help make surgery an option for many, as well as prolonging and adding to one’s quality of life.”
Certain risk factors may contribute to the incidence of colon cancer:
- Family history of polyps
- Age over 50
- Family history of first-degree relatives with colon cancer
- Genetic alterations
- Personal history of cancer
- Poor diet
- Cigarette smoking
While colon cancer is most often found in people age 50 and over, early incidence of colon cancer is on the rise. To help with early detection, make appointments for regular check-ups with your doctor and discuss your colon health and family history.
To schedule an appointment with your CHC of Cape Cod provider to discuss your health, call 508-477-7090.