Cancer found in the colon or rectum is diagnosed as Colorectal Cancer, which is also known as Colon Cancer. Whether you live in the Bronx or in any community of the upper Western world, (North America), colorectal cancer is a serious deadly disease where researchers have found that it may be contributed to American diets as oppose to the Eastern world, like Asia, where the diet is lower in fat and higher in plant food intake according to the International Union of Food Science and Technology. Colorectal cancer begins in the colon, which is part of the large intestines (bowels), or it can occur in the rectum, the passage way at the end of intestines (colon) before the anus which also connects the intestines to the anus. It starts out with a polyp, a growth found inside on the walls (lining). When a polyp is found to be malignant (cancerous) these cells have multiplied in the tissues of the colon and are detected through a biopsy (diagnostic study of a tissue specimen). However all polyps are not cancerous. Polyps can range in size from a bump to grape-like and do not produce any symptoms until they become larger. Some symptoms that can occur are stomach pain, aches or cramps that are persistent or bleeding noted in the stool or unexplained weight loss. It is also a “silent killer” because it can strike without symptoms.
When cancer is diagnosed in the colon it may be found in tumors other than polyps. The size of a tumor is an important factor in determining the stage of the disease. Staging tests are performed to discover the extent of the cancer that has spread in the form of tumors, to surrounding tissues and to what degree (Stage 1, Stage 2, etc). Bronx residents or any one age 50 or older can make a difference in their lives and for their loved ones by getting screened for colorectal cancer early or when reaching this age as recommended for all Americans. Colorectal cancer can be prevented, treated and cured with early detection through medical screening.
SLIDE SHOW: “Understanding Colorectal Cancer”at WebMD
Screening Saves Lives
Due to low screening rates, less than 40 percent of colorectal cancers are found early. There is a five year survival rate of 90 percent for persons diagnosed with colorectal cancer when the disease is detected and treated. Unfortunately less than 50 percent of adults in the United States age 50 and older have been screened according to recommended guidelines set by the state department of health. This may also be associated with the extent of the screening tests which require being probed in the rectal area by a physician which can cause anxiety and embarrassment. According to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, these low screening rates may also be contributed to the lack of education, community awareness and provisions for the uninsured and underinsured populations. One initiative to increase the rate of colon cancer screening is the “FIT Kit”, an at-home fecal-immunochemical test (FIT) where a stool specimen is mailed to a laboratory for results. However, this test may not “detect a tumor that is not bleeding and if the results are positive for hidden blood, a colonoscopy is required to investigate further,” according to the American Cancer Society. There are eligibility requirements to receive a Fit Kit. Contact the American Cancer Society for more information by calling their toll free number (866) 442-CANCER (1-866-442-226237).
The exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown although there are a few contributing factors. Risk factors include personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or smoking, obesity, and lack of management of weight and a diet high in fat and low in fiber. Colorectal cancer risks can be greatly reduce by living a healthier lifestyle through managing diet, weight, physical activity, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and scheduling an annual physical with a doctor for regular screening tests. Find out ways that you can prevent colorectal cancer through diet and exercise in part 3 of this series by clicking here.
Bronx residents with cancer can benefit from health initiatives like free medicine programs for cancer patients at The Montefiore-Einstein Cancer Center, see more information listed below. For NYC residents contact The Continuum Cancer Centers of New York or Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Free Medicine Programs for Cancer Patients
The Psychosocial Oncology Program at the Montefiore-Einstein Cancer Center is offering two free research programs for patients with cancer.
- The Yoga-Based Cancer Rehabilitation Program includes 12 weeks of yoga to see if yoga can help patients with breast, lung, and colorectal cancer. A certified yoga instructor teaches classes in both English and Spanish.
- The Mind-Body Cancer Program includes 8 weeks of Mind-Body groups (The Stress Management Education Group and the Spiritual Support Group) for patients with most types of cancer.
Some restrictions apply to these groups, which have been specifically designed by a psychologist and an oncologist. For more info and to find out eligibility, call (718) 430-2380. Colorectal Cancer Program (718) 862-8840.Find cancer centers throughout the Bronx by clicking here for directions.
NEXT: Health Tips on Prevention – Your Diet (Part 3)
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