Colorectal Cancer: What You Need to Know
- Colorectal cancer is one of the most curable types of gastrointestinal cancer, if found early.
- Adults should begin regular screening at age 50. Those was a family history of colorectal cancer should be screened even earlier.
- Screenings should include either a fecal occult test once every year and a sigmoidoscopy every five years, or a colonscopy every 10 years.
- If a polyp is found, your doctor will want to monitor you closely. A polyp is a benign growth that could become cancerous if left untreated.
- Some forms of colorectal cancer are hereditary.
Read a more in-depth article about colorectal cancer, written by Johns Hopkins gastroenterologists, which details the anatomical description of the causes of colorectal cancer.
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Colon Cancer: Know Your Risk Factors, Symptoms, and the Importance of Screening and Current Treatments
While rates of colon cancer in adults over 50 have been declining, incidence rates in adults younger than 50 years have been increasing. Awareness of symptoms and risk factors is important in detecting the disease early.
Our colorectal cancer experts panel, featuring Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist Francis Giardiello, M.D. and colorectal surgeon Susan Gearhart, M.D., discuss risk factors, symptoms, the importance of early screenings and current treatment options.
How common is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer -- cancer occurring anywhere along the colon, from the cecum to the rectum -- is currently the third-most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States behind breast cancer and lung cancer. About 130,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the U.S., and it claims the lives of approximately 56,000 annually. A study of the national trends indicate an increase in the cases of colorectal cancer in adults under age 50, while African-Americans face a substantially increased risk of dying from colorectal cancer.
Is colon cancer preventable?
Colorectal cancer occurs when the cells that line the colon become abnormal, most often through the growth of a polyp. These polyps, if left alone and untreated, can grow into cancer. Early detection is vital to the prevention of colorectal cancer, and screening is essential to prevention and should be a part of routine care. A colonoscopy is able to detect and remove any polyps, effectively reducing the risk of colorectal cancer
Is colon cancer inherited?
A number of factors come into play with regards to the development of colorectal cancer. Approximately 20 percent of colorectal cancer cases originate in people with a family history of the disease. First-degree relatives actually have a two-to-three-fold increased risk of developing colorectal cancer than those with no family history.
People with a family history of colorectal cancer should begin receiving colonoscopies or other screening procedure starting at age 40, or 10 years before the youngest case in the family, whichever comes first. High-risk individuals (those with previous colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or history of colorectal polyps) require screening every two to five years depending on the individual.
The average person should begin undergoing colorectal cancer screening at age 50 or older as recommended by your physician.
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