The Facts About Colorectal Cancer

By Louis Aurisicchio, MD  |  3/16/2016

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. It is as common in women as it is in men.
This year, more than 134,490 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Risk Factors:

  • Age 50 and older
  • Smokers
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Moderate to heavy alcohol intake
  • Increased intake of red or processed meats
  • Family history of colorectal cancer and/or benign (not cancerous) colorectal polyps, and inherited colorectal cancer syndromes
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)

Risk Reduction:

  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day (five days a week)
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke
  • Consume no more than one alcoholic drink a day if you’re a woman or two drinks a day if you are a man
  • Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Eat less red meat and eliminate processed meat

Early Detection:

  • If you’re at average risk for colorectal cancer, you should start getting screened at age 50
  • If you’re at higher risk, you may need to start regular screening at an earlier age and be screened more often
  • If you’re older than 75, ask your doctor if you should continue to be screened
  • The best time to get screened is before you have any symptoms
  • With certain types of screening, this cancer can be prevented by removing polyps (growths on the wall of the intestine) before they become cancerous
  • Several screening tests detect pre-malignant polyps and colorectal cancer early, when it can be more easily and successfully treated. Consider one of the tests that find pre-cancer and cancer in the following intervals:
    • Colonoscopy every 10 years
    • Virtual colonoscopy every 5 years
    • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
    • Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years
    • Stool occult blood test (FOBT) every year
    • Stool immunochemical test (FIT) every year
    • Stool DNA test (sDNA)
  • An abnormal result of any of these studies should be followed with a colonoscopy

80% by 2018?  
Led by the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, 80% by 2018 is a national initiative aimed at increasing the rate of colorectal cancer screening to 80% by the year 2018. By reaching the 80% mark, more than 277,000 cancer diagnoses will be prevented and more than 200,000 lives will be saved by 2030.  The goal is to mobilize the community around a common goal – to save lives from colorectal cancer.

Why is 80% by 2018 important?  
Screening saves lives and early detection is key to survival. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of all cancer deaths, affects men and women equally and yet one in three adults between the ages of 50 and 75 (23 million people) are not getting screened. Lives can be saved by creating a community network to ensure that people have the information that they need and access to quality care. Raising awareness especially among Hispanic and African-American populations is a priority due to the low screening rates (52% in Hispanics) and high incidence rates (African- Americans).

Why don’t people get screened?

  • Concerns about affordability
  • Lack of symptoms
  • No personal connection to cancer or family history
  • Fear about the prep and test
  • Their physician never recommends it

How is 80% by 2018 different than other colon cancer initiatives?
80% by 2018 is unique because anyone can take a leadership role and everyone is welcome to participate. Reaching diverse organizations is critical to success – not only do we need hospitals and medical professionals to help advance the mission, we are looking to businesses, corporations, churches and government organizations to help spread word and help save lives.

Learn more about early detection and screening services at Health Quest. We offer specialized care and a full range of state-of-the-art cancer diagnostic services, right here in the Hudson Valley.

Dr. Louis Aurisicchio, a board certified gastroenterologist from CareMount Medical, P.C., is a member of the medical staff at Putnam Hospital Center. He completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in gastroenterology and clinical nutrition at Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center in the Bronx. He has practiced in the area for more than 20 years.

American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts & Figures 2016
American Cancer Society: Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2014-2016
National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable