Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Tomorrow can’t wait
March 2020   THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Tomorrow can’t wait

Colorectal cancer is the type of cancer that starts in the colon, or large intestine, or the rectum.
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Although cancer can appear in either of the two locations, they share many similarities. In many cases, colorectal cancer begins as growths in the inner lining of the colon called polyps. It is important to note that not all cases of polyps result in cancer. The chance of a polyp becoming cancer depends on its type – i.e. if it is an adenomatous, hyperplastic, or inflammatory polyp – if a polyp larger than 1cm is found, or if more than two polyps are found.[1]

Did You Know?

  • Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide[2]
  • It is the third most common cancer in men and the second most common in women2
  • About 71% of colorectal cancer cases occur in the colon and the remaining 29% in the rectum[3]
  • Incidents in people under 50 are on the rise[4]

Colorectal cancer affects both men and women of all ages, but the risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age. The majority of cases, about 90%, occur in people over 50. It is a kind of cancer that does not always cause symptoms, especially in the early stages. If symptoms do appear they may be in the form of blood in or on stool, stomach pain or cramps that do not subside, and unexplained weight loss.[5]

As most colorectal cancers start as abnormal growths, so it can be prevented if caught early enough. This is why getting colorectal screenings is important, especially for people over 50 years old. Other prevention methods include a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting red meat,[6] alcohol, and tobacco consumption.5

Treatment for colorectal cancer is highly effective when the cancer is caught in its early stages. Treatment usually consists of surgery to remove the polyps or cancerous growths and then followed by chemotherapy. Treatment significantly prolongs patients’ lives and restores their quality of life.5

Sources:

[1] What Is Colorectal Cancer? American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/what-is-colorectal-cancer.html. Reviewed February 21, 2018. Accessed February 11, 2020.

[2] Colorectal cancer statistics. World Cancer Research Fund International. https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/cancer-trends/colorectal-cancer-statistics. Accessed February 11, 2020.

[3] Statistics and risk factors. Colorectal Cancer Alliance. https://www.ccalliance.org/colorectal-cancer-information/statistics-risk-factors. Accessed February 11, 2020.

[4] What Is Colorectal Cancer? Colorectal Cancer Alliance. https://www.ccalliance.org/colorectal-cancer-information/what-is-colorectal-cancer. Accessed February 11, 2020.

[5] Colorectal Cancer Awareness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/colorectalawareness/index.htm. Reviewed March 5, 2019. Accessed February 11, 2020.

[6] Aykan NF. Red meat and colorectal cancer. Oncology reviews. 2015 Feb 10;9(1). doi: 10.4081/oncol.2015.288

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