Tag Archives: colon cancer

Women’s Health Week: Colon cancer isn’t just for men

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From May 14 – 20, the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to raise awareness around and provide recommendations for women’s health.

The mission of this initiative is to “Provide national leadership and coordination to improve the health of women and girls through policy, education, and model programs.”

Although there are several issues that primarily affect women – cervical, ovarian and breast cancers, mammograms, osteoporosis – women also face risks with digestive issues. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Colon Cancer are just a few of the health concerns of which Women’s Health Week works to increase awareness.

And while the risk for colon cancer is slightly lower in women than in men, almost 5% of women will face a diagnosis this year alone. However, those risks have been decreasing steadily over the past several decades, due almost exclusively to advanced screening capabilities and treatment options.

But we’re not out of the woods just yet: Colon cancer is still the third leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States.

“The old message was that colon cancer was a man’s disease. We have to be careful not to regress in our message to women.” says Sidney J. Winawer, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, to MedPage Today.

So what can women do? Two words: Get screened.

Advancements in technology, research and treatment are only good if we actively opt to utilize them. Most medical professionals recommend that women start their regular colonoscopies at age 50. However, if you have a family history of the disease, or other potential factors such as obesity, smoking and certain ethnicities, your doctor may recommend an earlier start.

For more information on women’s health issues, and National Women’s Health Week in general, WomensHealth.gov. There, you’ll find out how you can get involved, and a comprehensive list of topics that affect women’s health, with information and additional resources for each.

Call to book your colonoscopy today. And remember, screening saves!

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Better colonoscopy prep in the works

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Colonoscopy is by far the best way to detect and prevent digestive issues such as colon cancer.

Oh, the colonoscopy. Although it’s the most effective way to detect and thereby prevent colon cancer and other digestive issues, some people are still reluctant to commit to the procedure. Ask just about anyone who’s endured the quick and painless process, and they’ll tell you that the prep is the most difficult part.

Reports the Chicago Tribune: “Data suggest that about 40 percent of the people who should get a colonoscopy don’t, mostly because of the prep,” says Douglas Rex, a distinguished professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine.

A typical colonoscopy involves drinking lots and lots of not-so-tasty liquids followed by lots and lots of trips to the toilet. Nothing is going to change in the toilet department, but the liquids are getting a face lift.

Researchers are experimenting with flavored shakes and bars such as strawberry banana or coconut that have the same effect as the historically dreaded liquid.

“Those drinking the new products were twice as likely as those who used the standard prep solution to be satisfied and four times as likely to recommend it,” says the Tribune.

The products should be available to patients in about two years.

The entire goal of these new prep methods is to get more people to commit to a colonoscopy, as it’s undoubtedly the number one way to detect and prevent cancer, tumors, polyps and other intestinal abnormalities.

“The easier you make it for people, the more you can improve their adherence,” says Susan Czajkowski, chief of the health behaviors research branch of the National Cancer Institute.

“The perfect screen has no value if it isn’t used.”

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Colon cancer rates on the rise in young people

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Listen to your body and be honest with your doctor. Early screening can detect and prevent complications from colon cancer.

As we continue through Colon Cancer Awareness month, our goal is to increase the conversations people have about the disease. Knowing that screenings are by far the most effective way to detect colon cancer early can even work to prevent it altogether.

An unfortunate trend in the fight against colon cancer is a spike in the amount of young people diagnosed. Formerly considered a disease reserved for older men, this new uptick in folks under 40 is disturbing but also mostly unexplained.

“People born in 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer as people born in 1950 faced at the same age,” says CBS New York.

For people of an average risk, the standard age to begin screening for colon cancer is 50. The only problem with that guideline is that younger folks are getting missed, often until it’s too late.

While the medical community struggles to pinpoint the cause of the surge, many speculate that changes in lifestyle and diet are to blame.

“Prime suspects include obesity, inactivity and poor diets,” said researchers from the American Cancer Society.

In other words, the behaviors we know are bad for us, and cause health issues across the board, are the likely culprit in the uptick in colon cancer.

While the statistics are alarming, the overall rates of colon cancer in younger people is still low. But that doesn’t mean there’s no lesson in this – be your own health advocate. Listen to your body and work with your doctor to pinpoint when something is wrong.

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March Madness for Colon Cancer Awareness

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The staff of Troy Gastroenterology, Center for Digestive Health, showing their support for Colon Cancer Awareness Month by dressing in blue on March 3.

Every March, the Colon Cancer Alliance celebrates Colon Cancer Awareness month, to push for more support, research and recognition of the struggle the disease incurs.

We lose more than 50,000 Americans every year to colon cancer, with more and more young people turning up with the disease.

“Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the United States,” says the CCA.

The good news is, with early screening, detection and even prevention is possible. Most cases of colon cancer appear in folks over the age of 50, which is why the current recommendation for colonoscopy is also age 50. Even then, people with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) are far more likely to develop the cancer than others. For those folks, your doctor might recommend starting your colonoscopy routine even earlier.

How can you help?

Get involved with Colon Cancer Awareness by making a donation. The Salah Foundation matched donations in 2016 to generate more than a quarter million dollars in extra revenue for research.

If you’d rather participate, the CCA hosts the Undy Run/Walk all over the country to raise funds and awareness.

The Never 2 Young campaign is also doing its best to raise awareness about the decreasing age of colon cancer’s victims.

“As the leading national colon cancer patient advocacy organization, we’re dedicated to bringing together the brightest minds to increase screening rates and survivorship,” says N2Y.

This month, show your support for fighters, survivors and family members of folks with colon cancer. Wear blue, join a local event, and donate money. Every little bit counts to get us to a stage of early detection and prevention.

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It’s time to quit smoking for your colon health

Image result for quit smokingWe all know smoking is bad for us. We also know how much it sucks to try to quit. And while you’ve probably heard all of the advice in the world and all of the complications it can cause, now, there’s another reason to quit: Colon cancer recovery.

A new study suggests that folks who smoke aren’t as likely to survive the fight against colon cancer as former smokers or those who never smoked.

And to make matters worse, upon diagnoses, smokers were more likely to be in an emergency situation or need immediate surgery.

“People are generally deniers especially when it comes to pleasurable habits or when a life style change is recommended for their health,” said Dr. Sidney Winawer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

So what can you do?

The most effective way to quit is to work with your doctor to create a plan or to join a support group. Any time you’re looking to kick a bad habit, having support from a community or partner creates a level of accountability that is difficult to replicate on your own.

“Your doctor can be a key resource as you’re trying to quit smoking. He or she can talk to you about medications to help you quit and put you in contact with local resources,” says The American Lung Association.

The ALA has all sorts of other resources to help you make sense of what to expect and how to be successful at quitting. Check out their I Want To Quit Smoking page for reasons, facts, frequently asked questions and support you can get from the ALA itself.

Smoking is the worst thing you can voluntarily do to your health. Make an appointment with your doctor and commit to making yourself healthier.

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Colon cancer and exercise: The connection to longevity

Image result for older person exerciseEveryone knows that exercise is the one thing that we could all be getting more of. And even though it can be tough, especially in these cold winter months, now there’s even more of a reason to get moving.

A new study reveals that survivors of colon cancer have a better chance of survival if they engage in some exercise.

“Patients who engaged in at least five hours of non-vigorous physical activity a week had a 25% reduction in the hazard for survival,” says MedPage Today. “With four or more hours of weekly activity, the survival hazard improved by 20%.”

And it seems as though the length of exercise was more important than the vigor. Which is good news for folks who have a difficult time with cardio. Hitting five hours a week showed less progression of the disease and increased longevity.

An hour a day might seem a little steep if you’re just starting out. But you don’t have to jump right into the full schedule – you can work your way up. And, you can do 20-30 minutes at a time a couple times a day to help break it up.

Here are a few ideas to get going. Mix them up to keep things interesting.

  • Map out a walking trail around your office grounds or hallways, and take a break mid-morning and mid-afternoon to do a few laps.
  • If you have a dog, bundle up and get the both of you outside. Just make sure the sidewalks are clear.
  • Take the stairs whenever possible. If you work on a really high floor, get off the elevator three to four floors early and walk the rest of the way.
  • Set up one cleaning project a week, and set aside a half hour each night to work on it.
  • Try some simple yoga moves. Follow simple routines for beginners.
  • Find out what classes are offered at your local community center or school. Also look at your local gym or Y for an affordable weekly class.

While five hours is a great goal, if you know you won’t hit it, don’t set yourself up for failure. Aim to increase your activity level by one hour a week until you hit five.

And remember, “These findings suggest that it doesn’t take a lot of physical activity to improve outcomes,” says MedPage Today. “While exercise is by no means a substitute for chemotherapy, patients can experience a wide range of benefits from as little as 3o minutes of exercise a day.”

 

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Minority Cancer Awareness: African Americans more likely to have colorectal cancer

National Minority Health Month and Minority Cancer Awareness Week are in April.

Some minorities have a higher rate of colon cancer in the U.S.

April is National Minority Health Month, and beginning April 10 is National Minority Cancer Awareness Week.

In the U.S., African Americans have the highest rates of colorectal cancer cases and mortality from the disease than any other group. Folks of Eastern European Jewish descent have the highest rates of colon cancer in the world.

The causes for these disparities isn’t exactly clear. The American Cancer Society posits that higher poverty levels among minority communities in the U.S. may be one reason.

“African Americans and Hispanics in the US have higher poverty rates than whites and are less likely to have health insurance, making it harder for them to get the care they need,” says ACS.

The organization is trying to raise awareness and lower the imbalance of rates through improving access to screening and treatment, as well as programs to quit smoking. Smokers are more likely to both develop and die from colon cancer.

The advocacy partner of the American Cancer Society, the Cancer Action Network, says that it’s working toward both prevention and scientific advancements.

“It is critical that our nation supports policies and programs that not only improve access to existing methods to prevent, detect and treat cancer, but also help continue making scientific advances in cancer prevention, detection and treatment methods for all Americans,” says CAN.

The American Cancer Society is attempting to bridge the gap between American minorities and cancer rates. They’re constantly developing resources in other languages and pushing for awareness about the discrepancies in our population.

As always, it’s important to remember that while you can’t control certain factors, there are some things you can do to prevent colon cancer. Exercise, eating more veggies, quitting smoking and cutting back on alcohol can all help contribute to a lower rate of colon cancer.

For more information on how to get involved and push for prevention, visit the American Cancer Society.

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Talk it out: Colon cancer conversations you should have

Colorecatal_Cancer_Awareness_Month_Scrolly_MarchTalking about cancer is never easy. Especially if you come from a family who keeps their medical struggles private. But it’s so important to have conversations with relatives about the issues they face. You can learn a lot about the risks you might face simply by knowing what your genes are predisposed to.

“First-degree relatives – parents, siblings and children – of patients with colorectal cancer or polyps have a two- to three-fold increased risk of developing polyps and colon or rectal cancer,” says Craig Reickert, M.D., in Breaking taboo: Making colon cancer awareness a family affair.

It’s especially important to educate yourself about your family history, because oftentimes, colon cancer comes with no symptoms.

“We’re finding colorectal cancer in younger people under 40,” says Dr. Anezi Bakken, M.D. M.S. at Troy Gastroenterology. “And there are usually no symptoms,” Dr. Bakken adds.

By far the best way to screen for colon cancer is a colonoscopy. But, if you’re still facing resistance from your family about discussing their personal health, Dr. Reickert suggests putting it this way:

You change the oil in your car so you don’t have to replace the entire motor. Colonoscopy is just like that oil change; it’s preventative maintenance to extend your life and avoid invasive treatments down the line, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

The bottom line is that screening is the only way you can get out ahead of colon cancer to have a chance of getting it under control. Even though it’s not curable, it’s definitely controllable if found early enough and treated properly.

And, after talking to your family, it’s even more important to get screened – and screened early – if they’ve had any issues with colon cancer, Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.

Dr. M. Emin Donat, M.D. F.R.C.P.C. at Troy Gastroenterology, puts it best: “A colonoscopy is easy, painless and can save your life.”

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Dress in Blue 2016 a huge success!

On March 4, our wonderful staff showed their awesome support for Dress in Blue Day 2016. The Colon Cancer Alliance raises awareness for colon cancer research and survivors each year by asking everyone to #DressInBlue.

Here’s some of the highlights from Friday’s big day. Thanks to everyone who participated!

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More young people diagnosed with colon cancer

Colon cancer cases are increasing in folks under 50 years of age.

There have been an increasing number of cases of colon cancer in people under 50.

We often think of colon cancer as a disease only older people have to worry about. But lately, there have been reports of more people under 50 being diagnosed with colon cancer.

According to CBS News, one in seven people who have colon cancer are under 50. Most younger people who are diagnosed have a later stage cancer. But there’s good news: the rate of survival without recurrence is also higher in younger folks.

Conflicting views

The current recommendation for colon cancer screenings is to start at age 50. For people with a family history of the disease, it’s a whole decade earlier, at age 40.

A new study is recommending earlier screenings for everyone by lowering the age to 40 or 45 across the board. But many insurance plans don’t cover colonoscopies for people under the recommended age or those without a family history of the disease.

According to Record Searchlight, “Several surgeons who conducted the study said that shows the recommended age for screening needs to be younger than current guidelines.” But many in the medical community are waiting for more conclusive statistics before making that claim.

What you can do

As always, pay attention to your body. If something feels off, tell your doctor. Symptoms of colon cancer aren’t always obvious. They can be as simple as fatigue, bloating, nausea or constipation.

Dr. Suryakanth Gurudu, a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic, recommends a less invasive approach, such as a stool sample. “We still don’t have large population-based studies that show cost effectiveness by decreasing the age to 40 years,” says Dr. Gurudu.

The risk of developing colon cancer during your younger years is still low. But if you have a family history or suspicious symptoms, talk to your doctor about your options.

Never Too Young

The Never Too Young (N2Y) coalition works to raise awareness of colon cancer cases in young people. They recognize the problems you can face with your insurance company or other barriers to treatment.

“Too often we hear stories from folks in this group who are facing additional screening and diagnosis hurdles due to their age,” says N2Y.

Visit the Colon Cancer Alliance site for more information.

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