Colorectal cancer is the only cancer that can be prevented with a screening procedure. Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer – which is cancer of the colon or rectum – it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.
“The bad news is that every year, about 135,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 50,000 people die from it,” according to Dr. John Adams, a board-certified colon and rectal surgeon. “But the good news is that colorectal cancer is highly preventable. If people would have the appropriate screening procedures, including colonoscopies starting at age 50, thousands of deaths could be prevented. In fact, as screening rates have gone up over the last few decades, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been declining.”
Colorectal cancer typically develops from a polyp (abnormal growths). During a colonoscopy, physicians can find precancerous polyps and remove them before they have a chance to turn into cancer. Screening also helps to find any cancerous growths early, during their most curable stages, he said.
To minimize the risk of colorectal cancer, people should take these steps.
· If you’re aged 50 to 75, get screened for colorectal cancer regularly. If you’re between 76 and 85, ask your doctor if you should be screened.
· Be physically active.
· Maintain a healthy weight.
· Don’t drink too much alcohol.
While there are several screening test options, colonoscopy is considered the gold standard since the entire colon can be observed and any polyps found can be removed during the procedure, thus eliminating the need for an additional second procedure. Other procedures include:
· Colonoscopy (every 10 years).
· High-sensitivity guaiac fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) (every year).
· Sigmoidoscopy (every 10 years, with FOBT or FIT every three years).
· Sigmoidoscopy alone (every 5 years).
· Stool DNA test (FIT-DNA) every one or three years.
· CT colonography (or virtual colonoscopy) every five years.
In Columbus, approximately 61% of adults are ages 50-75 are taking advantage of colorectal cancer screenings, according to the 500 Cities project. Colorectal cancer screening can both prevent the occurrence of cancer by detecting and removing precancerous lesions, and detect colorectal cancer early when treatment is more effective. Colorectal cancer screening has been shown to significantly reduce deaths from the disease.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer or other diseases can include bleeding from the anus, constipation or diarrhea that lasts more than a week, and blood in the stool (making the stool look black or having red streaks in it).
About the 500 Cities Project
The purpose of the 500 Cities Project is to provide city- and census tract-level small area estimates for chronic disease risk factors, health outcomes, and clinical preventive service use for the largest 500 cities in the United States. These small area estimates will allow cities and local health departments to better understand the burden and geographic distribution of health-related variables in their jurisdictions, and assist them in planning public health interventions. Learn more about the 500 Cities Project.