Prevention and Screening
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. This year, more than 150,000 people in the
U.S. will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer; more than 50,000 will die from their disease.
Colorectal cancer is one of only
three cancers which can actually be prevented by regular screening examinations (the other two cancers are cervical cancer and skin
Therefore, it is important for patientís to understand:
Colorectal cancer is preventable;
The methods by which colorectal cancer can be prevented; and
and when these methods should be used based on risk factors such as age, family history, personal history of other cancers and history
of other related disease.
Nearly all colon and rectal cancers come from "polyps", which are small, benign (non-cancerous) growths
on the lining of the colon and rectum which often progress to cancer. Approximately 20% of all people will develop polyps. When they
are small, polyps almost never cause symptoms and most people are unaware that they have them. While not every polyp will turn into
a cancer, many polyps will become cancerous if not removed. If polyps are present and found early, before they can become cancerous,
it is possible to remove these, preventing their development into cancer.
Screening is designed to detect polyps and to eliminate
them before cancer develops. Prevention of cancer is the #1 goal, but even if cancer should already be present, early detection, before
cancer has had a chance to spread, is also an important factor in leading to a cure and saving lives.
How does a person get
The American Cancer Society recommends colonoscopy as the best method for screening.
should I be screened?
The timing and frequency of colonoscopy is based on risk of developing this kind of
cancer and is usually categorized as: Average, Moderate, or High risk.