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Colorectal Cancer – The Preventable Cancer

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women and the second most common cause of cancer deaths. Colorectal cancer begins in either the colon or the rectum.

How does colorectal cancer develop?

It all starts with a polyp. Colorectal cancer occurs when the cells of the polyp become abnormal and grow out of control. Unfortunately, many colorectal cancers are "silent" tumors until they are advanced and produce symptoms. However, through regular screenings, colorectal cancer is preventable, and curable, if detected early.

What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?

With more than 90 percent of cases diagnosed in individuals over the age of 50, the primary risk factor for colorectal cancer is age.
Other risk factors for colorectal cancer include:

  • Personal history of colon or pre-cancerous polyps, or colorectal, breast or uterine cancer
  • Family history of colon or pre-cancerous polyps, or colorectal
  • Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn's Disease
  • Smoking and Alcohol Consumption
  • Obesity and Physical inactivity
  • Inherited cancer syndromes (FAP, HNPCC)
  • Race: African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews have been reported to be at higher risk

How can colorectal cancer be prevented?

Every man and woman at age 50 is at average risk for developing colorectal cancer and should get a Colonoscopy. Getting a colonoscopy screening for colon cancer can identify polyps. Polyps are the precursor of cancer and therefore removing them can prevent the polyp from progressing to cancer.

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

In its early stages, colorectal cancer may show no symptoms. For this reason, it is very important to have regular colorectal cancer prevention examinations, or screenings. When symptoms are present, the cancer may still be curable if not ignored.
The symptoms of colorectal cancer may include:

  • Change in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea)
  • Blood on or in the stool (not always visible to naked eye)
  • Unexplained anemia
  • Unusual abdominal or gas pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting

How is colorectal cancer treated?

If cancer is found, the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute has developed a comprehensive program with a multidisciplinary approach to providing the best care for patients with colorectal cancer. Colon cancer can be treated by surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy, or a combination.

For more information about Florida Hospital Digestive Health Services contact us here.

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