Colorectal cancer (also known as colon cancer, rectal cancer, or bowel cancer) is the development of cancer from the colon or rectum (parts of the large intestine). It is due to the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates annually there are 136,830 people diagnosed and 50,310 will die from this disease.
Common symptoms include:
• A change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of stool, that lasts longer than four weeks.
• Rectal bleeding
• Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
• A feeling that bowels do not empty completely
• Weakness or fatigue
• Unexplained weight loss
Factors that may increase risk of colon cancer include: Older age, African-American decent, a personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps, inflammatory intestinal conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, a family history of colon cancer, a low-fiber, a high-fat diet, a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, obesity, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Regular screening is one of the most powerful weapons for preventing colon cancer. If polyps are found during colon screening, they can usually be removed before they have the chance to turn into cancer. Screening can also result in finding cancer early, when it is easier to treat and more likely to be curable.
One can help lower risk by eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and less red meat (beef, lamb, or pork) and less processed meat. Men should limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks a day, and women to no more than 1 drink a day. The American Cancer Society recommends regular colon cancer screening for most people starting at age 50. People with a family history of the disease or other risk factors should talk with their doctor about beginning screening younger age. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Jamaica Hospital that specializes in gastroenterology, please call 718-206-6742.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.