March is Colon-Rectal Cancer Awareness Month! Too many of my friends, relatives, patients, and clients have been affected by this disease. March 5th was National Colon Cancer Day. That date came and went, but I could not let the month pass without bringing attention to the importance of Prevention, Screening, and Early Detection of Colon-Rectal Cancer.
Cancer of the colon and/or rectum (colorectal cancer) can begin without symptoms, which is why early screening is important. Pre-cancerous and benign polyps can be removed before they become cancer. While routine screening often begins at 50, screening for those at higher risk may begin as early as 30’s. Having a family history of colorectal cancer puts you at higher risk. Increased Risk of Colorectal Cancer –
- Family history of colon and/or rectal cancer
- History of colorectal polyps
- Lack of Physical Activity
- High-Fat (Saturated/Trans-fat) Diet
- Alcohol Use
Colon Cancer Facts from the American Cancer Society –
- Approximately 5%, (1 in 20 Americans) will be diagnosed with cancer of the colon or rectum in their lifetime.
- Second Leading Cause of Cancer Deaths in Men and Women
- Approximately 9o% Cure Rate When Caught Early!
The Good News – Prevention, Early Detection and Treatment Improves Outcomes and Saves Lives!! ** Ask Your Doctor About Screening!
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
- Fecal Occult Blood (FOB) (*Easily performed at home or in the doctor’s office.) **
- Stool immunochemical test (FIT) **
- Stool DNA test (sDNA) **
** According to the American Cancer Society, if these tests are positive a colonoscopy is recommended. Video of Katie Couric and a screening colonoscopy – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbUesuxT1IE
- Physical Activity (of 30 minutes, 5 x a week)
- Maintain Healthy Weight
- Avoid Smoking
- Minimize Alcohol (2 Drinks for Men, 1 for Women; per day. No need to start if you don’t currently drink.)
**Diet may also play a role in preventing colon cancer, but the study results have been mixed. Some dietary recommendations that may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer:
- Minimize Red and Processed Meats
- Limit Saturated Fat in Your Diet
- Diets Higher in Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains may be beneficial
** Talk to your physician about colorectal screening and prevention!
** TREATMENT for Colorectal Cancer – Conventional Treatment for Colorectal Cancer May Include:
‘Integrative Health Therapies’ for Added Support – Integrative Health Therapies are complementary therapies offered ‘in addition to’ (not in place of,) conventional therapies for supportive care and to minimize side effects of treatment. Integrative therapies may include: acupuncture, massage, meditation, reiki, tai chi, and yoga. To learn more about supportive, integrative therapies offered during cancer treatment – www.nccih.nih.gov. Many hospitals now offer integrative therapies as part of comprehensive health care programs. Ask your physician about incorporating integrative therapies in your plan of care.
Finding an integrative health provider – https://nccih.nih.gov/health/howtofind.htm. and https://nccih.nih.gov/health/tips/selecting Warning: Some complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies may not be recommended with your condition. Some herbal and over-the-counter (OTC) products may even interfere with your treatment! ASK Your Oncologist, before pursuing complementary, alternative and integrative therapies. Let your physicians know if you are using CAM therapies or herbs/supplements.
The ‘Integrative Health Model’ is meant to incorporate conventional medicine with complementary therapies that have been demonstrated to be safe, effective and potentially minimize negative side effects, improve outcomes, and increase patient satisfaction.
Sources and More Information: American Cancer Society – http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@nho/documents/document/colorectalcancer.pdf