March 16, 2012

Maury Regional Medical Center wants you to have the facts about colorectal cancer

COLUMBIA, Tenn. — The first fact you should know is that colorectal cancer screening saves lives. During National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Maury Regional Medical Center would like to encourage everyone aged 50 years or older to be screened regularly. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with regular screening as many as 60 percent of deaths from this cancer could be avoided.

Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. It also happens to be one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the country. The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with advancing age. More than 90 percent of cases occur in people aged 50 or older.

“It makes good sense to be screened on a regular basis as suggested by the CDC. Screening tests can find cancer early, when treatment works best,” said Dr. Amit Choksi, a physician on the medical staff of MRMC. “In the majority of cases, colorectal cancer will develop from precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum. These are abnormal growths that can be removed before they turn into cancer.”

While everyone should begin screening soon after turning 50, the CDC suggests getting tested even earlier if:

  • You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease

Several tests are available to screen colorectal cancer. Some are used alone; others in combination with each other. Talk with your doctor to determine which test or tests are best for you. Some recommended screenings include:

  • Colonoscopy
  • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy together with a double contrast barium enema

“There is little definitive evidence about ways to prevent colorectal cancer other than screening. Some studies have shown that maintaining a healthy weight and increased physical activity may decrease the risk,” said MRMC medical staff physician Dr. Robert McClure. “Experts are currently researching diet, certain medications and supplements. We may eventually find that one or more of these will help, but certainly the most effective way to reduce your risk today is by having regular screening.”