March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and during this important month, Decatur County Hospital urges everyone to visit getscreened.org to learn more about colorectal cancer symptoms, risk factors, and screening options.
According to the American Cancer Society, this year an estimated 153,020 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 52,550 will die from it. Colorectal cancer is a term that includes colon cancer and rectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest and fourth most common form of cancer in the U.S. Most colorectal cancers develop in people above age fifty (50), but more than one (1) in ten (10) diagnoses are in younger people. In fact, cases of young-onset colorectal cancer are rising.
But there is some good news! Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and is highly treatable when detected early. Most people should begin getting screened for colorectal cancer at age 45, according to national guidelines. People at higher risk, including those with symptoms, a family history of colorectal cancer, and certain inherited genetic syndromes like Lynch Syndrome may need to get checked earlier.
At Decatur County Hospital, we are your local partner for screening and treatment of colorectal cancer. Dr. Wehling, DO, our General/Vascular Surgeon, offers colonoscopies to look for signs of colon cancer, and if diagnosed, offers multiple on-site procedure options to address the illness.
Surgical options to address colorectal cancer include colon resection specifically related to cancer or diverticulitis, intervention during a colonoscopy to remove suspect polyps, and ostomies (including reversal).
If you are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and need more intervention than a surgical option, our board-certified Oncologist, Dr. Zeeshan Jawa, MD, is on-site almost every week from Mission Cancer + Blood to provide support on your cancer journey. Dr. Jawa can help diagnose cancer, and when infusion treatment is necessary, our specially trained infusion team will guide you through the steps to complete treatment to address your cancer diagnosis.
To help prevent colorectal cancer or catch it early, when it’s most treatable, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance recommends the following tips:
- Know the risk factors and practice prevention: More than half of colorectal cancers in the U.S. are associated with lifestyle risk factors that can be changed. So, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke, drink alcohol in moderation, and eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grain fiber, and calcium. Family history of colorectal cancer, certain inherited genetic syndromes, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, and type 2 diabetes are also risk factors.
- Watch for symptoms and take action: Colorectal cancer can develop silently, so there may be no symptoms until it has advanced to later, and more deadly, stages. That’s why it’s critical to get screened for this disease. Symptoms to look for include a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, abdominal discomfort, weakness and/or fatigue, and unexplained weight loss. If you experience these symptoms, speak with a healthcare provider immediately.
- Get screened: Screening can prevent colorectal cancer through the detection and removal of precancerous growths called polyps. Screening can also detect cancer at an early stage, when treatment is usually more successful. People at average risk should start screening at age forty-five (45), and those at higher risk may need to get checked earlier.
This month, let’s join together and spread awareness about colorectal cancer and encourage our loved ones to get screened. By doing so, we can help prevent this disease and save lives.
To learn more about our screening and surgical services, and our cancer treatment services, visit www.decaturcountyhospital.org, or call 641-446-2285 to schedule an appointment. Depending on your insurance, you likely do not need a referral to see Dr. Wehling, Dr. Jawa, or many of our other providers.