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Being Aware

Colorectal cancer updates

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov), it is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States (of cancers that affect both men and women).

The most recent statistics are from 2012. In that year, 134,784 Americans (70,204 men and 64,580 women) were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. 51,516 Americans (26,866 men and 24,650 women) died from colorectal cancer. African-Americans had the highest rate of getting colorectal cancer.

The good news is nine out of every 10 people whose colorectal cancers are diagnosed early (stage 1) are still alive five years later. In 2012, 65 percent of American adults were up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening, 7 percent had been screened but were not up-to-date, and 28 percent had never been tested.


new research

aim2

An immune system protein, AIM2, plays a role in the aggressiveness of colon cancer, according to research published in 2015 by scientists at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital led by Dr. Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti. The findings, published in the journal, showed that AIM2 deficiency causes the cancer cells to grow uncontrollably. On the other hand, the presence of AIM2 encourages the growth of “good” bacteria that helps prevent colon cancer.

According to doctors, it could be possible to prevent colon cancer or reduce risk by increasing AIM2 activity in patients. In patients who already have the disease, AIM2 could reduce the progression of the tumor. While Dr. Kanneganti’s team was excited about the results, they said there is more research to pursue.


Prevention & Testing

Colonoscopy

The most common tool in detecting pre-cancerous polyps and colon cancer is the colonoscopy. The exam typically takes about 30 minutes. A doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera inside the colon and sends pictures to a TV screen. Patients should consult with their doctors about when the right time is for them to begin screening. According to the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org), the most common recommended starting age is 50, with screenings every 10 years.

However, if you have a family history of colon cancer, then doctors may recommend testing sooner. Doctors Kenneth Champagne and Matthew Boudreaux of the Colon & Rectal Clinic of Acadiana state that if a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) had colon cancer, then a patient should be screened 15-20 years before the relative’s age at the time of diagnosis. African-Americans have a higher incidence of colon cancer and should begin screenings at age 45.

For other preventive measures, Drs. Champagne and Boudreaux recommend quitting smoking (it doesn’t only increase your odds of lung cancer) and increasing fiber intake.


Symptoms

Changes in Bowel Habits

The most common tool in detecting pre-cancerous polyps and colon cancer is the colonoscopy. The exam typically takes about 30 minutes. A doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera inside the colon and sends pictures to a TV screen. Patients should consult with their doctors about when the right time is for them to begin screening. According to the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org), the most common recommended starting age is 50, with screenings every 10 years.

However, if you have a family history of colon cancer, then doctors may recommend testing sooner. Doctors Kenneth Champagne and Matthew Boudreaux of the Colon & Rectal Clinic of Acadiana state that if a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) had colon cancer, then a patient should be screened 15-20 years before the relative’s age at the time of diagnosis. African-Americans have a higher incidence of colon cancer and should begin screenings at age 45.

For other preventive measures, Drs. Champagne and Boudreaux recommend quitting smoking (it doesn’t only increase your odds of lung cancer) and increasing fiber intake.


 

 

 

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