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Colo-Rectal Cancers – April 1st, 2003

Dr.S.Lakshmanan (General & Colon Rectal Surgeon) Salem, Illinois ,USA.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon, the large bowel or large intestine and the rectum. The colon and rectum serve as a storage organ for the body waste. colorectal cancer may begin as a non-cancerous polyp, grape like growths on the lining of the colon and rectum. For reasons that are not fully understood, these polyps may become cancerous. This cancer affects an equal number of men and women and is the third most common cancer in both sexes and it is the second leading cause of cancer death in both sexes.

Who is at risk?

Colon and rectal cancer can affect anyone. Your risk increases with age, some people are at higher risk for colorectal cancer including those with:

Personal or family history of benign colorectal polyp.

Personal or family history of colorectal cancer.

Family history of inflammatory bowel disease[ulcerative colitis, crohn scolitis].

Personal or family history of ovarian or endometrial or breast cancer.

Five steps to lower the risk of colorectal cancer:

A good deal of research indicates that a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains is beneficial to your overall health. This healthy diet eaten over your lifetime may be protective against a number of cancers including colon and rectal cancer.

Fat in your diet has been linked to a number of cancers including colorectal cancer. High fat diets have been shown to increased risk of tumors in animals. In Country is with high fat diets there is a higher incidence of colorectal cancer. Fat from the red meat may be particularly harmful.

Folate is a substance found in many common foods such as leafy green vegetables; it has been linked to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. A daily multivitamin containing 0.4mg of folic acid may be helpful.

Heavy alcohol use has been associated with colorectal cancer; alcohol in combination with tobacco is linked to colorectal cancer and other cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. If you use alcohol the recommendation is drink only in moderation, 2 or fewer drinks a day for men and 1 drink for women. If you use tobacco QUIT using it,, if you don’t use tobacco DON’T START it. Regular physical activity can decrease a person’s risk for colorectal cancer by reducing the risk for developing polyps in the colon and rectum. Exercise also increases your overall well-being, exercise for at least 20 minutes three to five a days a week. Brisk walking, jogging can be beneficial.

Since colorectal cancer is easily treated and often curable when detected early. Please GET SCREENED.[have the tests done].

Precancerous polyps can be detected and removed before they become cancerous, even when you don’t have any symptoms. If you are above the age of 50 please talk to your Dr. regarding the screening options to check your colon and rectum:

To have colonoscopy or double contrast barium enema every 5-10 years.

Have digital rectal exam every year and have your stool checked for any hidden blood.

If anyone of your family members have had cancer at a particular age the remainder family members are recommended to have the screening test done 10 years EARLIER than the onset of the cancer in the family members.

What are the treatment options available for colon and rectal cancer?

1. Surgery is the most common form of therapy for colorectal cancer and , for the cancers that have not spread it is frequently curative.

2. Chemotherapy in selected cases. Radiation therapy in combination with chemotherapy is given to certain selected rectal cancers.

3. A permanent colostomy is an abdominal opening for the elimination of body wastes is seldom needed for colon cancer and is infrequently required for rectal cancer.

Once again the name of the game in cancer treatment is EARLY DETECTION.. It would be ideal if we could prevent it. To some extent COLON CANCER IS PREVENTABLE by having periodic screening colonoscopic tests thereby they can remove the precancerous polyps. In addition to the screening tests, if you add the life style modification including healthily diet and exercise as part of your daily living it would be beneficial for the overall health.

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