From OHC

March 22, 2024

March is National Colorectal Cancer Month. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both women and men in the U.S., excluding skin cancers.  While the rate of people being diagnosed has dropped each year, individuals younger than 55 years of age are experiencing an increase. As a result of this trend, the recommended screening age for a colonoscopy was changed from 50 to 45 years old in 2021.  Knowing the facts about this potentially life-threatening disease is crucial for early detection and treatment. Here at OHC, we’re dedicated to empowering you with knowledge and offering the most advanced treatments, including a clinical trial colon cancer vaccine, in the fight against colorectal cancer.

Understanding Your Risk

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than half of colorectal cancers are linked to modifiable risk factors.  Incorporating healthy habits and lifestyle choices may reduce your colorectal cancer risk. In particular, diet, weight, and a sedentary lifestyle may be linked to early-onset colorectal cancer.

  • Age: The risk of colorectal cancer significantly increases over the age of 50 for men and women. However, recent studies show an increase in diagnoses among young adults, highlighting the importance of family history and symptom awareness.
  • Family history: A close relative diagnosed with colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps can increase your risk.
  • Pre-existing conditions: Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) are linked to higher risk.
  • Lifestyle: Smoking, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, and a diet low in fiber and high in red meat can be contributors.
  • Ethnicity: American Indian and Alaska Native people have the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the United States, followed by African American men and women.
  • Diabetes mellitus, Type 2: Individuals with this condition have a higher risk than those without.
  • Inherited Syndrome: About 5% of colorectal cancer patients have an inherited gene mutation. Lynch syndrome is the most common.

Prevention and Screening

There are many important steps you can take to help reduce your risks and educate yourself on the screening recommendations.  Early detection through colonoscopies or stool tests is crucial for successful treatment.

  • Family history: Knowing your family history for all types of cancer is critical and sharing that information will help guide your healthcare provider’s recommendation when your screening should begin.
  • Screening guidelines: OHC offers a comprehensive screening guideline tool for colorectal cancer as well as many other types of cancer. Click here to download your copy.
  • Genetic Screening: OHC offers cancer genetic screening through our cancer genetics program. Screening for eligibility along with counseling is available. You do not have to be a patient of OHC to be referred to our program.  Learn more here.

Recognizing the Warning Signs

Colorectal cancer often goes undetected in its early stages. Listening to your body can help you recognize the subtle signs.

  • Bowel irregularities: Persistent constipation, diarrhea, or a change in stool consistency (narrow, pencil-thin stools) may be a sign.
  • Blood in stool: Bright red or dark brown blood could indicate internal bleeding and may be a sign of colorectal cancer.
  • Abdominal pain and cramping: Persistent and unexplained discomfort could be a sign.
  • Unexplained weight loss: Losing pounds without trying is a potential warning.
  • Fatigue and anemia: Persistent tiredness and low red blood cell count could be red flags.
  • Know Your Body: It is extremely important to report any unusual signs or symptoms to your healthcare provider. The earlier the diagnosis, the better the outcome.

Hope in the Face of Diagnosis

A colorectal cancer diagnosis might feel like a blow, but remember, this is not the end. Today, advanced treatment options offer incredible hope. At OHC, we provide:

  • Leading-edge therapies: OHC offers the latest, evidence-based treatments, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapies.
  • Groundbreaking clinical trials: As the region’s leading independent adult cancer practice, OHC offers our patients access to innovative clinical trials, evaluating promising new therapies.
  • Colon cancer vaccine trial: In addition to many other clinical trials, OHC is currently evaluating a colon cancer vaccine, that could revolutionize how we treat and prevent colon cancer.
  • Cancer Genetic Specialists: The OHC cancer genetic specialists provide testing and counseling for people who may be at risk for hereditary cancer syndrome, helping patients and their doctor make informed decisions about their healthcare needs.
  • Supportive Care Team: OHC’s Supportive Care Program works with your healthcare team to focus on a deeper, comprehensive assessment of your treatment goals, symptom management, quality of life, and advanced directive preferences.
  • Comprehensive care: Our compassionate team of cancer doctors, nurses, and support staff will work with you to coordinate a personalized treatment plan to help you achieve the best outcome.

If you or a loved one have been recently diagnosed with colorectal cancer and would like to schedule an appointment or request a second opinion, please call OHC at 888-649-4800 or visit today.

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