Colon-Rectal Cancer: Are You at Risk?
Colon-rectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States. For many, early detection and intervention can prevent colon-rectal cancer from occurring.
Colon-rectal cancer risk factors
Most colon-rectal cancers start out as a tiny colon growth called a polyp. Polyps typically take years to grow into a cancer. Removing polyps during a colonoscopy before they have a chance to turn cancerous helps stop that progression.
Who is at risk?
- Both men and women are at risk for colon polyps.
- People of all races are at risk for polyps.
- People over age 50.
You are at a greater risk if you:
- Are overweight or obese
- Are African-American (Some experts recommend screening at age 45.)
- Have type 2 diabetes
- Drink alcohol
- Eat red meat, processed food and/or smoked foods
- Have a personal or family history of polyps or colon-rectal cancer
Detecting colon-rectal cancer
Waiting for symptoms of colon-rectal cancer to appear – diarrhea, rectal bleeding, losing weight without trying – is waiting too long.
Hematologist oncologist Michael Evans, MD, with LVPG Hematology Oncology–Airport Beltway, says early detection is critical. “Identified early and properly treated, stage one colon-rectal cancer has approximately a 90 percent cure rate,” he says.
LVHN general surgeon and endoscopist Martin Walko, MD, at the Health & Wellness Center at Hazleton advises his patients to consider colon-rectal cancer screening options:
- Stool tests that detect blood or a genetic cancer marker (Cologuard®)
- Barium enema
“Most physicians and health care providers consider colonoscopy the ‘gold standard’,” Walko says. “But tests you can do at home and send away for analysis are a starting point.”
Ready to test? Free colon-rectal screening kits are available.
The health care team at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Hazleton wants you to get screened for colon-rectal cancer. Free colon-rectal cancer screening kits that you use at home and send away for testing will be available at the following locations during the month of March:
- Lehigh Valley Hospital–Hazleton, front desk
- Health & Wellness Center at Hazleton, front desk
- Lehigh Valley Physician Group Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology–14th Street
- LVHN Cancer Center–Airport Beltway