March is the month for Colorectal Cancer Awareness. As part of our efforts at Uberdoco to help raise awareness for Colorectal Cancer, we are publishing this article to help spread more information about the topic. We hope you find the following informative and helpful.
Introduction to Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is cancer that arises from the colon or rectum or also commonly known as the large intestines. These make up part of the digestive system. Food goes down to the digestive tract into the large intestines. Here, minerals and water is absorbed from the food matter. The waste left over from this process then passes into the rectum and is expelled out as waste (feces).
In the United States, this cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer. It is also the third leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women. In 2014, The American Cancer Society estimated 136,830 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 50,310 people died from the disease. There has been unprecedented progress in reducing colorectal cancer incidence and death due to early detection and prevention through screening programs.
Who gets colorectal cancer?
It has been shown that 90% of new cases and 93% of deaths occur in people above the age of 50 years old. Also studies have shown, incidence are 30% to 40% higher in men than women. Colorectal cancer rates are higher in black men and women and lowest amongst Asian/Pacific Islander men and women.
What puts you at risk of getting colorectal cancer?
Risk factors can be divided into modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors. Risk factors that are non-modifiable include personal or family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps and a personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease. People who have parents, siblings or off-spring who has had this cancer, are 2 to 3 times more at risk to develop colorectal cancer. Besides that, people who previous had colorectal cancer have higher chances of developing subsequent cancer in the colon or rectum. Also, people who has had ulcerative colitis for about 30 years, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, have a 18% chance of developing colorectal cancer. On the other hand, the modifiable risk factors comprise of physical inactivity, over-weight and obesity, red meat and processed meat consumption, alcohol consumption and smoking. Studies have shown that people who are physically active have 25% lower risk of developing colon cancer. They also found that sedentary people who become active later in life may reduce their risk. On the other hand, high consumptions or red meat or processed meat increases the risk, however, the exact cause is uncertain. It is believed that it may be related to carcinogens that form when red meat is cooked at a high temperature for a long period of time. Alcohol and smoking also have shown to increase the risk. It is said that people who have a lifetime average of 2 to 4 alcoholic drinks per day have a 23% higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.
What reduces your risk of developing colorectal cancer?
A good healthy lifestyle can benefit in reducing your risks of developing colorectal cancer. People who are active physically have lower incidence of colorectal cancer. It is recommended engaging in at least 15 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week. A healthy diet also ensures a lower chances of getting colorectal cancer. Intake of dietary fiber, cereal fiber and whole grains is associated with reduced risk. Specifically, for every 10 grams of daily fiber consumption, there is a 10% reduction in cancer risk. Moderate daily fruit and vegetable intake is slightly protective against colon cancer. Also higher consumption of total dairy products, milk and calcium, vitamin D and dietary folate appear to decrease colorectal cancer risk. Besides that, it has been oberved that women who use postmenopausal hormones have lower rates of colorectal cancer than those who do not. However, use of postmenopausal hormones increases risk for breast and other cancers, as well as cardiovascular disease, so it is not recommended for the prevention of colorectal cancer. At present, the American Cancer Society does not recommend any medications or supplements to prevent colorectal cancer because of uncertainties about effectiveness, appropriate dosage, and potential toxicity.
How do I screen for colorectal cancer?
Screening can prevent cancer through the detection and removal of precancerous growths, as well as detect cancer at an early stage. As a result, screening reduces colorectal cancer mortality both by decreasing the incidence of disease and by increasing the likelihood of survival. Screening test are divided into screening tests that primarily:
Detect cancer such as stool tests;
Those that are more likely to detect both cancer and precancerous growths such as sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy.
The primary aim in screening is to prevent cancer. Hence, exams that are designed to detect early cancer and precancerous polyps should be encouraged. You should discuss with your health provider regarding the best modality for your screening.
How do you reduce your risk?
Identify your risk factors. Ask your family members regarding their risk factors. Main risk factors to look out for are:
Men above the age of 50 and;
Family history of colorectal cancer and personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis).
Get screened. Which tests you should have depends on your preferences, some are easier but require to be done more often than others. Most people get tested above the age of 50. However, if you have any risk factors such as family history of colon cancer then screening tests must begin at an earlier age.
Maintain a healthy balanced diet.
Eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products.
Increase your physical activity. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
Reduce alcohol consumption. Drink in moderation if needed at all.
Reduce consumption of red meat and processed meat.
Increase intake of diary and milk products as well as calcium and Vitamin D intake.
Get an adequate intake of folate.
How you can help raise Awareness?
Read and share more information on the topic on your favorite social network. It is also important to hear and read about people who are suffering from this cancer and be supportive.
If you are a medical professional such as a nurse or doctor you can show your support by adorning our Colorectal Cancer Awareness Charm. A small ornament can go along way in showing them that you are aware about their situation and that you care.