Colorectal Cancer

Posted on

Mar 04, 2012

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Florida - Southwest

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Q: What are my risks of acquiring colon cancer?
A: There are approximately 140,000 new cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed in United States annually. About 50,000 American deaths occur due to colon cancer every year. The lifetime risk of colorectal cancer for an average American is about 5% with 90% of those cases occurring after age 50.
Q: How should I be screened for colorectal cancer?
A: Colorectal cancer is a cancer that develops in large intestine or rectum. The major goal of screening is to prevent deaths from this type of cancer. Most colon cancers develop from precancerous polyps which are visible during colonoscopy. Removal of these polyps can reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer by 90%.
People with no family history of colon cancer should undergo colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50. People who have one 1st degree relative with colorectal cancer should start screening 10 years younger than the earliest diagnosis in the family.
People with genetic risk should start screening with colonoscopy as early as age 20 to 25.
Q: Besides regular screening what else can I do to lower my risk of developing colorectal cancer?
A: Multiple studies have shown an almost 25% lower risk of developing colon cancer in people who exercise on regular basis. A diet that is low in red meat and high in fruits, fiber and vegetables maybe protective against colorectal cancer. There is also data to suggest that calcium either in dietary or supplemental form lowers the risk of developing colon cancer. Studies mainly out of Europe suggest that daily aspirin also reduces the risk of colon cancer. You should always discuss with your physician before starting aspirin since it can increase your risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.
Q: How is colon cancer treated?
A: It is primarily treated with surgery. Due to advances in surgical techniques, surgeons can perform a lot of these surgeries in a laparoscopic manner lowering the hospitalization and recovery time.
Q: If all the cancer is removed by the surgeon then why do I need chemotherapy?
A: If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes then the risk is very high for cancer coming back in another part of the body which will make it incurable. Chemotherapy after the surgery is called adjuvant treatment. The goal of adjuvant treatment is to kill microscopic cancer cells and to keep them from seeding another organ.
Q: What happens after the chemotherapy is over?
A: The patient then undergoes surveillance with periodic blood work, colonoscopy and CT scans.
Submitted by: Nuruddin Jooma, M.D. MPH
Premiere Oncology, 955 10th Avenue North, Naples, FL 34102, 239-325-1440

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