Men’s Health Monday: Colorectal Cancer

Approximately 90 percent of colorectal cancers are thought to be preventable. Other than skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis among men and women in the United States. Studies show that 1 in 20 Americans develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime.What is Colon Cancer?Colon cancer is the development of malignant tumors inan in the lining tissue of the colon. Most colon tumors begin when normal tissue forms a polyp, or pre-cancerous growth projecting from the wall of the colon. As the polyp grows, a tumor forms. Because the tumor grows slowly, early detection is possible through screening and tests.Colon cancer is often combined with rectal cancer, which appears in the last several inches of the colon, and can collectively be referred to as “colorectal cancer.”Risk Factors for Colon CancerSome risk factors for colorectal cancer include:Over the age of 50Personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancerPersonal history of inflammatory bowel diseaseFamily history of colorectal cancerInherited syndromesFAP – familial adenomatous polyposisHNPCC – hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer also known as Lynch syndromeJuvenile polyposisPeutz-JegherMYH geneRacial and ethnic background – African Americans and Ashkenazi JewsLifestyle factorsDiet high in red meats and processed meatsPhysical inactivityObesitySmokingHeavy alcohol useType 2 diabetesScreening and Prevention of Colon CancerRegular screening exams such as colonoscopies can prevent colorectal cancer.  During colonoscopies, any abnormal cells that begin as polyps can be found and removed before they become cancerous. Screening can also result in early detection of colorectal cancer when it is highly curable.Screening for colorectal cancer should begin at age 50 for those with no identified risk factor other than age. People with a family history or other risk factors should talk to their doctor about starting screening when they are younger. If you have an early onset of colon polyps, colon cancer, or multiple family members with colon polyps or colon and uterine cancer, you should consider genetic counseling and testing. Genetic counselors can be contacted at Pennsylvania Hospital by calling 215-829-6528 or at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania by calling 215-349-8141.Make an appointment for a colonoscopy at Penn