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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness
Stop by Health 1st’s Wellness Wednesday
table in the Children’s Hospital lobby between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. March
5 to receive information on colorectal cancer.
Lucretia D. Wilson, R.N.
Awareness is a continuous process that can lead to increased knowledge,
and increased knowledge about colorectal health can provide empowerment
to make life-sustaining choices and decisions.
Each year, approximately 112,000 Americans are diagnosed with
colorectal cancer (CRC) and about 50,000 die from CRC. An estimated
30,000 or more lives are saved each year through early detection and
screening for CRC. The American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
(ASGE) encourages everyone 50 years of age and older, or those younger
than 50 whose family has CRC history or other risk factors, to be
screened for CRC. Recent literature suggests that “African-Americans
have the greatest incidence of colorectal cancer than any other racial
or ethnic group.” As a result, blacks are urged, due to higher cancer
risk, to get screened for CRC at age 45 years.
According to ASGE, colon cancer is the second highest cause of
cancer-related deaths in the United States. Counter to the belief that
it is a predominately a male’s disease, women are equally afflicted.
Fortunately, with increased awareness, screening and early detection,
CRC is highly preventable, treatable and has an excellent cure rate.
Primary prevention of CRC includes dietary modification and prevention
of environmental exposure, according to published medical studies.
Other preventative recommendations, according to the American Cancer
- Engage in physical activity five or more days a week, at
least 30 minutes a day, at least 10 minutes at a time. Even small
amounts of exercise on a regular basis can be helpful.
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods and
avoid high-fat, high-sugar and low-fiber foods.
- Supplement your healthy diet by taking a daily
multi-vitamin that includes calcium and folate or folic acid.
- Avoid alcohol, or drink alcohol in moderate amounts.
Screening is classified by the individual’s level of risk based on
personal, family, and medical history, which will determine the
appropriate approach to screening in that individual. Of the screening
modalities offered, a colonoscopy is the gold standard, because it is
diagnostic and therapeutic. It allows the endoscopist to visualize the
entire large intestine and remove polyps, which are growths that can
develop in the colon and are potentially cancerous. A colonoscopy is
usually offered every 10 years depending on patient’s history.
- Ask your medical provider about taking aspirin as a
Recommended criteria for screening of individuals with a family history
of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps, according to National
Clearinghouse guidelines, are:
- People with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or
child) with colon cancer;
- Adenomatous polyps diagnosed at younger than 60 years or
two first-degree relatives diagnosed with colorectal cancer at any age
should be advised to have screening;
- Colonoscopy starting at age 40 years or 10 years younger
than the earliest;
- Diagnosis in their family, which ever comes first; and
repeated every five years;
- People with a first-degree relative with colon cancer or
- Diagnosed at age 60 years or younger or two second-degree
relatives with colorectal cancer should be advised to be screened at
age 40 years.
Consult your primary care physician for evaluation of your colon
screening needs. For information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- People with one second-degree relative (grandparent, aunt,
or uncle) or third-degree relative (great-grandparent or cousin) with
colorectal cancer should be advised to be screened as average risk
Friday, Feb. 29, 2008
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