Staff Partner, ACS Marco Island
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2017 there will be 95,520 new cases of colon cancer, and 39,910 new cases of rectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the rectum, typically as a growth on the inner lining of the colon or rectum called a polyp. Not all polyps will turn into cancer, however, some will over the course of several years.
Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is considered the third most common cancer diagnosis in both men and women in the United States. For men, 1 in 21 (4.7%) will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime, and for women,
1 in 23 (4.4%).
The death rate from colon cancer in 2017 is estimated to be around 50,260 deaths. However, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for several decades. Attributed to this success could be that polyps are now being found more often by screening and are either removed before becoming cancerous, or treatment of the cancer at an easier stage of the disease, resulting in a higher
There are several risk factors that may increase a person’s likelihood of developing colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer. One of the strongest risk factors found is the correlation between diet, weight, and exercise, and the development of colorectal cancer. A diet high in red or processed meats puts you at a greater risk. Cooking at very high temperatures, such as when frying, broiling, or grilling, will create chemicals that might raise your risk, but it is not clear by how much. Heavy alcohol use may also cause problems, and it is recommended that men drink no more than two drinks a day, and for women, no more than one drink a day.
Uncontrollable risk factors include your age; being over fifty substantially increases your risk for development. A personal history of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease or family history, are also factors to consider. People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk as well.
Screening is a powerful tool to catch cancer early, and prevent it from spreading. Regular colorectal cancer screenings are very beneficial to your health. Colonoscopies are most commonly used to screen for colorectal cancer. It is performed using a thin, flexible, lighted tube with a small video camera at the end that looks at the entire length of the colon. It even has the ability to pass instruments through the colonoscope to biopsy or remove any suspicious-looking areas, such as polyps. Before the test is performed be sure your doctor knows about any and all medications you are taking. The colon and rectum must be empty in order to perform the test, and you will be required to use a method to cleanse your body before the procedure.
To read more information on prevention, please visit our website at www.cancer.org. You may also stop by our local Marco Island office Monday through Friday from 9 AM- 5 PM. We offer informational pamphlets, and complimentary wigs. If you would like to speak to a cancer specialist, try our Patient Services 24/7 department at 1-800-227-2345.
This is an ongoing series of columns dedicated to informing the Marco Island community about the American Cancer Society, the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health concern by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. The Marco Island American Cancer Society office is located at 583 Tallwood St., Suite 101 and is open daily from 9 AM-5 PM. For more information about volunteering or any of the events mentioned in this column please contact Sue Olszak or Lisa Honig at 239-642-8800 ext. 3890.