Of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the U.S. — but it doesn’t have to be. If everybody aged 50 or older had regular screening tests, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 60 percent of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and Barrow Regional Medical Center’s Senior Extra program is dedicated to raising awareness about the risk factors for the disease and what you can do to lower your risk.
Risk factors you can’t control
Colorectal cancer affects people of all racial and ethnic groups, and is the third most common cancer for men and women. Although the exact cause of most colorectal cancers is unknown, some conditions may increase a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer, including:
- Age. According to the American Cancer Society, more than nine out of 10 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are at least 50 years old.
- A personal history of colorectal polyps or cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease).
- A family history of colorectal cancer.
- Inherited syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).
What you can do to lower your risk
Precancerous polyps, which are abnormal growths, can be present in the colon for years before cancer develops. Someone could have polyps or even be in the early stages of colorectal cancer and experience no symptoms — that’s why it’s so important to have regular screenings.
“Colorectal screening makes it possible for us to find and remove polyps before they become cancerous,” Dr. Christopher Brandys; General Surgeon at Barrow Surgical Associates. “It also allows us to find cancer at the earliest stages, when it’s most treatable.”
The most effective way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is by having regular colorectal cancer screening tests beginning at age 50. Some studies have also shown that you may lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer by:
- Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Eating a diet low in animal fats and high in vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products.
- Limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding smoking.
If you’re 50 or older, don’t delay: Talk to your doctor about colorectal screening and how often you should be tested. The best way to protect yourself against colorectal cancer is by catching it in the precancerous stages, and the best way to do that is through screening.
About Barrow Surgical Associates
Barrow Surgical Associates has been serving Barrow County since 2003. Dr. Brandys completed his medical school, residency and surgical fellowship at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. He is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons in Canada. Dr. Brandys is also a Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery for Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and is affiliated with the GHSU/UGA Medical Partnership. He has over 20 years of experience in general surgery and wound care. Dr. Brandys also offers aesthetic procedures such as Botox injections, microdermabrasion, laser hair removal & sclerotherapy (vein injections.) For more information visit BarrowSurgical.com or call 770.307.4762.
About Barrow Regional Medical Center
Barrow Regional Medical Center has been serving Northeast Georgia since 1951. Our integrated medical campus includes a medical office building housing physicians, the Hospital, a Women’s Pavilion, as well as specialty services. Our medical staff includes more than 100 physicians representing multiple medical specialties. Barrow Regional’s service lines include Orthopedic & Spine Surgery, General & Vascular Surgery, Bariatric Surgery, Critical Care & Pulmonology, Interventional Radiology & Diagnostic Imaging, Women’s Pavilion, Sleep Center, Wound Care Center, Occupational & Physical Therapy, Emergency Department, ICU, Labor & Delivery, Laboratory Services, Medical & Surgery Unit, and Speech Therapy.
Barrow Regional Medical Center is fully accredited by The Joint Commission and has been recognized as one of the nation’s top performers in critical quality and accountability measures. The facility is also recognized by The American College of Radiology and The College of American Pathologists. Barrow Regional also tops the Georgia Hospital Association’s Quality Honor Roll in the Chairman’s Category.
About Senior Extra
Ever-changing advancements in health care allow us to live longer and improve our overall health. Providing the latest information about health advancements through monthly seminars and events is just one facet of Senior Extra. To sign up for a free membership, visit www.SeniorExtra.com.