Concern for Colorectal Cancer
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month — the Endoscopy Center and Rapid City Medical Center is hosting the 3rd Annual Bottoms Up 5k run/walk to raise funds and awareness.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the US and is most often found in people 50 years or older. However incidence in those younger than 50 is on the rise.
When it comes to colorectal cancer, early detection through prevention and screening is proven to dramatically reduce fatalities from this type of cancer. The fact is everyone is at risk. There are often no early signs of the disease until the cancer is advanced.
Dr. Nathan Jaqua, Gastroenterologist with Rapid City Medical Center says,
“If you are considered average risk, again you don’t have a family history of colon cancer, you’re not symptomatic … if this is just a screening exam, then the recommendation still is 50 according to the guidelines. And the gastroenterology guidelines do recommend African-Americans start at age 45, that’s been the guidelines for quite some time. The American Cancer Society recently made a recommendation to start at 45 for everyone, that’s because we’re seeing an increase in color rectal cancer diagnosed and younger people in their 30s and 40s — we think a lot of that is due to obesity and diet and what not, but we have not quite nailed it down. But there’s enough evidence to suggest maybe we should start screen earlier. The G.I. societies have not made a formal recommendation yet — their official stance is that we’re in the data gathering phase, so we need a little more evidence before we can make that formal recommendation.”
Red flag symptoms include abdominal pain, blood in the stool and anemia. Always talk to your physician if you are concerned. Dr. Jaqua says that colonoscopies typically only takes about 30 minutes. If polys are detected they can be taken out immediately.
Preventive measures include eating a healthier/high fiber diet, only eating red meat once a week, avoid smoking, drink alcohol in moderation, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.
Take charge of your health by knowing family history and understanding risk factors.
Screening is the number one way to reduce the risk.
Jaqua says, “It’s preventable by doing colonoscopy screenings. If we find those polyps, those are the things that ultimately over the years can turn into cancer and so colonoscopies are pretty remarkable in that it is one of the few things that we have in medicine that actually prevents cancer. Most things if you think about it only find cancer once they are there and you just hope that you found it early enough that you can treat it. Colonoscopy actually finds it before the cancer starts. You find it in its infancy, when it’s just a polyp, and we could take it out and prevent that from ever causing harm to you.”
To help promote a healthy digestive system, Dr. Jaqua suggests eating natural probiotics like Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha.
Click here to learn more about the Bottom Up 5K.
Click here for more information on colorectal cancer.