Time To Talk Colon Cancer
Imagine if you could have a frank conversation with your friends and family about their colon health. It sounds like an odd idea, right? Let’s face it, the conversation about colorectal cancer isn’t always easy to have. After all, isn’t our digestive system something we usually leave to private conversations with medical professionals? Unfortunately, some people hesitate to discuss their colon even with their doctors. Perhaps this can all change though because alarming statistics show that Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men and women, and the third most common cancer diagnosis. On top of that, alarmingly, an increasing number of young people are being diagnosed with the disease.
Strollin’ for the Colon is dedicated to changing these statistics, and helping people open up that dialogue with family members and have that otherwise potentially awkward conversation with your doctor- because it’s Time to Talk Colon Cancer!
The importance of knowing your family history
Dr. Danielle Marino discusses why knowing your family medical history can help you and your doctors understand your risk for colorectal cancer.
Colon Cancer and health disparities for African Americans
Wilhelmina Sizer, NP discusses Colon Cancer and health disparities for African Americans. According to the American Cancer Society, African Americans have the highest rate of death and the shortest rate of survival for colorectal cancer. In fact, African Americans are about 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and about 40% more likely to die from it than most other groups.
When detected early with proper screening, colon cancer is 90% preventable. Why, then, are so many African Americans dying of colorectal diseases? The reasons for the differences are complex; but, they largely reflect differences in risk factors and in health care access. Socioeconomic factors place some African Americans at a disadvantage, making it harder to seek timely screening and treatment like a lack of (or less comprehensive) health insurance, and a lack of access to healthy and affordable foods. Education efforts about the importance of colon cancer screening, as well as breaking down barriers to access, are vital! It is as important as ever that everyone has access to and is receiving the recommended screenings. If you’re African-American, talk to your doctor now about your risks and screening for colorectal cancer!
Courtney's Story - The Importance of Talking to your Doctors
At the age of 35, Courtney S. was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer. Talking about Colon Cancer is important. It is #timetotalkcoloncancer because Courtney like so many others who have fought or are still fighting this disease are not alone! Talk with you family and talk with you doctors!
“I’ve always had bowel issues, usually on the loose stool side of the BM spectrum. But I was having constipation and blood in my stool for about 5-6 months and decided to get to the bottom of it. I reached out to my PCP and he decided to have me get a colonoscopy. I then saw a G.I. doctor who found a large golf ball sized tumor in my colon. I met with a colorectal surgeon who did bloodwork, CT scans and an MRI and discovered it was stage IV colon cancer that had spread to my liver. I was 35 years old.
Immediately my oncologist devised a plan of attack. I started six rounds of chemo then had surgery on the liver and colon and then six more rounds of chemo. The cancer came back in the liver about 3 months after my last chemo, so I had another surgery to remove 10% of the liver.
4 years later, I am cancer free and super grateful I got that colonoscopy. It saved my life. I could not keep ignoring what my body was telling me. ”
Why the screening guidelines changed to 45 yrs old
Dr. Melissa Hershman, Gastroenterologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, discusses why The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that adults be screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 45, and why this is so important.
A screening test is used to look for a disease when a person doesn’t have symptoms. (When a person has symptoms, diagnostic tests are used to find out the cause of the symptoms.) Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best. Regular screening, beginning at age 45, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer and finding it early.
Healthy choices that can help reduce your risk
There are a number of risk factors for colon cancer. While some risk factors for colon cancer you can’t control, there are some that you can. Dr. Danielle Marino, Gastroenterologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center shares how making healthier choices in your everyday life can help reduce many of these risks. Understanding your risk factors for colon cancer can help you keep healthy habits and have more-informed discussions with your doctor about colorectal cancer screening, because colorectal cancer is preventable and, if detected early, treatable and beatable.
A personal story of why colorectal cancer screening is important
Vicki Howard, PA at the University of Rochester Medical Center shares her story about how her family member’s diagnosis of Colon Cancer has impacted her and why colorectal cancer screening is so important. “It’s better to check and be sure!” Talk with your doctor about symptoms and your possible risks; and remember that screening saves lives!
Liver disease and Colon Cancer? How other medical conditions could increased your risk
We know there are a number of factors that increase the risk for developing colon cancer, some within a person’s control (like diet, alcohol, and smoking) and some not (like age, ethnicity, race, and genetics). However, did you know there are many other factors linked to an increased risk of developing colon cancer – like gallbladder removal, diabetes type 2, and even liver diseases? Dr. Marie Laryea, from the University of Rochester Medical Center, shares some insight into other medical conditions that can increase your risk for Colon Cancer.
Knowing the causes and risk factors for colon cancer can help you understand the importance of routine screening for colon cancer, as well as learn if you should begin screening at an earlier age. Talk with your doctor today about your risks.
Colon polyps and why it's important to be screened
Dr. Mohammed Absar Ullah, Gastroenterologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, answers some questions about colon polyps and colon cancer. Colon polyps are a small clump of cells that forms on the lining of the colon or rectum. Most are harmless; but some can develop into cancer. Colon polyps often don’t cause symptoms.
Regular screening tests, such as colonoscopy, can help ensure that polyps are identified and removed before they can develop into cancer. This is why routine screening is so important. Remember to talk to your doctor about screening.