What you can do to prevent colorectal cancer – Cherry Hill Courier Post

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How can Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month make a difference?

Colon cancer is sometimes an uncomfortable topic for people to talk about. But it is also one we should continue to talk about. Not counting skin cancers, colorectal cancers are the third-most-common type of cancer in the United States. More than 106,000 people in this country are diagnosed with colon cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Every March, National Colon Cancer Awareness Month is a time to raise awareness about colorectal cancer and take action toward prevention.

The facts

Colon cancer and rectal cancer sometimes are grouped together and called colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancers typically grow slowly. They usually start as polyps, which are overgrowths of tissue in the lining of the colon. While colon cancer may start within a polyp, not all polyps contain cancer or will become cancerous.

One in 19, or a little more than 5 percent, of Americans will develop colon or rectal cancer in their lifetimes. When colon cancer is diagnosed early, it has nearly a 90 percent chance for cure. That is why it is important for everyone to have a colonoscopy beginning at age 50, or earlier if you have a family history of this type of cancer.

Reducing risk through research

Research is ongoing in  the fight against colorectal cancer to look for causes, ways to prevent it, better and earlier detection methods and improved treatments.

Many studies are looking to identify the causes of colorectal cancer, in the hopes of using this knowledge to help prevent it. Other studies are looking to see if certain types of diets, dietary supplements or medicines can lower a person’s risk of colorectal cancer. For example, many studies have shown that aspirin and similar pain relievers might help lower the risk of colorectal cancer, but these drugs can sometimes have serious side effects. Researchers are now trying to determine if the benefits of this kind of treatment would outweigh the risks for some people.

What you can do

Communities, organizations, families and individuals can get involved and spread the word about colon cancer awareness. Commit to living a healthier lifestyle. Encourage families to get active together and eat healthy — exercise may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Studies have revealed that a healthy, balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, lower-fat milk products and healthy fats has been linked to a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. On the other hand, a diet high in fat and calories; low in fiber, vegetables and fruits; and with too many red and processed meats has been linked to an increased risk of the disease.

By far, the most important thing you can do is spread the word about screening. The survival rate for colon cancers has been increasing for the past 15 years because of screening — polyps often are found and removed before they become cancer.   Be sure to encourage friends and loved ones not to put off this important test. It could be a life-saver.

During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, become a champion to help prevent and reduce the incidence of this disease.

Steven J. McClane is head of the division of colorectal surgery at Cooper University Health Care.

What you can do to prevent colorectal cancer – Cherry Hill Courier Post

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