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Colorectal Cancer Awareness
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal Cancer is a cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum – these can also be called colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they begin because have many features in common. Cancer begins when cells in the body start to grow out of control, with most colorectal cancers beginning as a growth, or polyp, on the inner lining of the colon or rectum - these growths are called polyps. Not all polyps become cancerous but some types can evolve into cancer over the course of many years.
Who is at risk?
There are many risk factors that have been linked to colorectal cancer, most being lifestyle-related, such as diet, weight and exercise. Some factors that could put an individual at a higher risk of colon or rectal cancer may be:
- If you are overweight or obese.
- If you are physically inactive.
- If you have a diet that’s high in red meats and processed meats.
- If you are a smoker.
- If you are a heavy consumer of alcohol.
There are lifestyle changes you can make with the help of your primary care practitioner that can lower your risk of colon or rectal cancer. However, there are risk factors that you cannot change, such as:
- If you have a history of colorectal polyps or cancer.
- If you have a history of inflammatory bowel disease.
- If your family has a history of colorectal polyps or cancer.
- If you have type 2 diabetes.
Colorectal cancer doesn’t always cause immediate symptoms. However, you should always be on the lookout for the following as they can be a sign of colorectal cancer:
- Blood in or on your stool.
- Change in bowel habits, including diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing in the stool.
- Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away.
- Losing weight without cause.
Colorectal cancer symptoms are also similar to symptoms caused by other health issues, such as infection, hemorrhoids, and IBS, therefore it is important to speak with your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Tests and screenings
Screening is important for detecting early causes of colorectal cancer, so it is important to speak with your doctor if you believe you might be at risk. It is recommended that people 50-75 years old should begin to receive regular screenings, and some doctors suggest beginning at age 45 if you are at a higher risk. Screenings are for patients without symptoms so early detection can be made and possible tumors may be prevented.
Community Care Physicians offers many different colorectal screenings. Community Care Physicians General Surgery and Endoscopy and Surgical Care Suite performs upper GI Endoscopies and Lower GI Endoscopies to find precancerous polyps which can be removed during the test and may find cancer early when it is most treatable. You can also obtain the materials for the High-sensitivity fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) from your Community Care Physicians’ primary care office. Community Care Physicians offers numerous treatments including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation oncology, or a combination of these options.
If you have questions or concerns regarding colorectal cancer, we can connect you with the right physicians and the right treatment. Visit our Endoscopy and Surgical Care Suite here. If you are unsure about where to begin, you can also call our Concierge Care Coordinator at (518) 782-3800.
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