This year marks the 20th year that colorectal cancer patients, doctors, caregivers, and educators have recognized March as Colorectal Awareness Month. Dedicated by President Bill Clinton in 2000, this month aims to raise awareness about the facts of colorectal cancer, which affects more than 130,000 Americans each year.
Colorectal cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the colon or rectum repeatedly divide and multiply; doctors refer to the colon and rectum together as the colorectum or the large intestine.
Colorectal cancer develops slowly, usually over a period of 10 to 20 years when it is first a polyp. An adenoma polyp is the most common type of polyp, developing in about half of all people. Less than 10% of these polyps become cancerous, though.
According to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, many people with colorectal cancer were initially misdiagnosed or didn’t receive a proper diagnosis until the cancer was in its later stages. It is important to be aware of the warning signs of this cancer, especially since more than half of colorectal patients don’t have a family history of it.
Some of the common signs of colorectal cancer are:
- Persistent abdominal cramps or bloated feeling
- Rectal bleeding or dark stool
- Diarrhea or constipation
- A change in bowel movements
Many of the above symptoms are fairly common in people who don’t have colorectal cancer, but if you experience a number of these symptoms, or one symptom persists, consult your doctor.
If diagnosed with colorectal cancer, there are a number of treatment options available. If the cancer is contained to the polyp and has not metastasized (spread to other organs), the doctor may opt to surgically remove the polyp, which should eliminate the chance of the cancer spreading. Depending on whether cancer spread into the walls of the colon or into the lymph nodes, surgical removal coupled with chemotherapy may be recommended. Each case is different, and your doctor will advise you on the best treatment route.
Speak with a Specialist at GastroCare LI Today
GastroCare LI provides gastrointestinal screenings such as colonoscopies, lactose intolerance screenings, and capsule endoscopies. Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced New York gastroenterologists by calling (516) 265-7049 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.