Early colorectal cancer screening essential to prevention, increasing cure rate

Submitted to the Herald Review

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Central Michigan District Health Department wants to make consumers aware colorectal cancer, although a potentially life-threatening disease, is preventable with early detection.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2018 are 97,220 new cases of colon cancer and 43,030 new cases of rectal cancer. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 22 (4.49 percent) for men and 1 in 24 (4.15 percent) for women. It is expected to cause about 50,630 deaths during 2018.

However, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for several decades. There are a number of likely reasons for this. One is that colorectal polyps are being found earlier by screening and removed before they can develop into cancers or are being found when the disease is easier to treat. In addition, treatment for colorectal cancer has improved over the last few decades. As a result, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.

There are often no symptoms when colorectal cancer is first developing which means it can only be detected through regular early screening. Being over age 50, having a family history of colorectal cancer, colon polyps, being overweight, physically inactive and eating large amounts of red meat are all factors that create a higher risk for colorectal cancer. All men and women of average risk for colorectal cancer should have regular colorectal cancer screening starting at the age of 50. Your doctor may recommend earlier screening if you have one or more risk factors. Call your medical care provider and ask about his/her recommendations for screening.

Lifestyle modifications can significantly decrease your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Some of these modifications include: eating fruits, vegetables and high fiber foods, exercising regularly, limiting your alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy body weight.

If you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, your cancer care team will discuss your treatment options with you. There are several options for treating colorectal cancer but the most successful option starts with catching it early by participating in prevention screenings.

This article has been brought to you by Central Michigan District Health Department, which serves the counties of Arenac, Clare, Gladwin, Isabella, Osceola and Roscommon. Visit the website at cmdhd.org, find the Central Michigan District Health Department on Facebook or follow it on Twitter @CMiDHD.