At Hunterdon Digestive Health, our goal is to stop colon cancer from being one of the top three cancer killers. This can be achieved with early detection and prevention utilizing cutting edge technology, the highest quality services, and use of our extensive affiliation and supportive network. Colon cancer is preventable, beatable and treatable!!
At Hunterdon Digestive Health, our mission is to
“Stop colon cancer before it starts.”
Ask these seven questions that could save your life or the life of someone you love.
Test your knowledge about colon or rectal cancer (CRC) screening. If you think the answer is true or mostly true, answer TRUE. If you think the answer is false or mostly false, answer FALSE. The answers are at the bottom of the page.
- Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. (TRUE)
- CRC is predominantly a “man’s disease,” affecting predominantly more men than women each year. (FALSE)
- Only women over the age of 50 who are currently experiencing some symptoms or problems should be screened for CRC or polyps. (FALSE)
- The tests for screening for CRC include: a digital rectal exam, a stool blood test, flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. (TRUE)
- A colonoscopy screening examination typically requires an overnight stay in a hospital. (FALSE)
- Colon cancer is often preventable. (TRUE)
- Colon cancer does not occur before age 50. (FALSE)
Table of Contents:
- What is Colorectal Cancer?
- How common is colorectal cancer?
- What are the lifetime risk of colorectal cancer?
- How many deaths occur form colorectal cancer?
- What is the prevention and screening for colorectal cancer?
- Why is screening and early detection important?
- What are some symptoms of colorectal cancer?
- What are colorectal cancer risk factors?
- How can you stay healthy?
- When should I get screened?
- What are screening options to test for Colorectal Cancer?
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal Cancer is a cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. These cancers can also be named colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they have many features in common.
How common is colorectal cancer?
Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society's estimate for the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2017 are:
- 95,520 new cases of colon cancer
- 39,910 new cases of rectal cancer
Lifetime risk of colorectal cancer
Overall the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is: about 1 in 21 (4.7) for men and 1 in 23 (4.4) in women. This risk is slightly lower in women than in men.
Deaths from colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States and the second leading cause in men. It is expected to cause about 50,260 deaths during 2017. Better outcome is possible with early detection and timely treatment at Hunterdon Digestive Health.
The death rate (the number of deaths per 100,000 people per year) from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for several decades. There are a number of likely reasons for this. One is that Colorectal polyps are now being found more often by screening and removed before they can develop into cancers or are being found earlier when the disease is easier to treat. In addition, treatment for colorectal cancer has improved over the last few decades. As a result, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.
Prevention & Screening
Colon cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer when it’s found early.
Screening is the #1 way to prevent colon cancer because it finds cancer in the early stages, or, before it even has the chance to grow or develop.
WHAT IS SCREENING?
Screening is checking for a disease before there are symptoms. Because colon cancer first starts with few, if any, symptoms, it is important not to wait for symptoms. Here at Hunterdon Digestive Health we can help you take care of yourself.
WHY IS SCREENING AND EARLY DETECTION IMPORTANT?
Typically, colon cancer begins as a slow-growing, small growth in the colon. Over time, these pre-cancerous growths – called polyps – can turn into cancer.
Screening tests will help Dr. Sinha find polyps or cancer before symptoms start. This early detection may prevent polyps from becoming cancerous and treatments could be started earlier, when it is most effective.
The most common symptom is NO symptoms "Silent Killer”. Colon cancer first develops with few, if any, symptoms. Colon cancer symptoms can also be associated with many other health conditions. Early signs of cancer often do not include pain. It is important not to wait as early detection can save your life. If symptoms are present, they may include:
- A CHANGE IN BOWEL HABITS
Including diarrhea, constipation, a change in the consistency of your stool or finding your stools are narrower than usual
- PERSISTENT ABDOMINAL DISCOMFORT
Such as cramps, gas, or pain and/or feeling full, bloated or that your bowel does not empty completely
- RECTAL BLEEDING
Finding blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool
- WEAKNESS OR FATIGUE
Can also accompany losing weight for no known reason, nausea or vomiting
Be Proactive and we at Hunterdon Digestive Health has made commitment to care.
Colorectal cancer risk Factors
what you might be able to do to help lower your risk
Several risk factors that might increase a person's chance of developing colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer. But having a risk factor, or even many, does not mean that you will get the disease and some people who get the disease may not have any known risk factors.
Colorectal cancer risk Factors you can change
Several lifestyle-related factors have been linked to colorectal cancer. In fact, the links between diet, weight, and exercise and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer.
Being overweight or obese
If you are overweight or obese (very overweight), your risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer is higher. Being overweight (especially having a larger waistline) raises the risk of colon cancer in both men and women, but the link seems to be stronger in men.
If you are not physically active, you have a greater chance of developing colorectal cancer. Being more active might help lower your risk.
Certain types of diets
A diet that is high in red meats (such as beef, pork, or liver) and processed meats (such as hot dogs and some luncheon meats) can raise your colorectal cancer risk. Cooking meats at very high temperatures (frying, broiling, or grilling) creates chemicals that might raise your cancer risk, but it's not clear how much this might increase your colorectal cancer risk.
You can reduce the risk of cancer by making healthy choices like eating right, staying active and not smoking. It's also important to follow recommended screening guidelines, which can help detect certain cancers early.
People who have smoked for a long time are more likely than non-smokers to develop and die from colorectal cancer. Smoking is a well-known cause of lung cancer, but it is also linked to other cancers, like colorectal cancer.
Heavy alcohol use
Colorectal cancer has been linked to heavy alcohol use. Limiting alcohol use to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women could have many health benefits, including a lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer risk factors you cannot change
Your risk of colorectal cancer goes up as you age. Younger adults can get it, but it’s more common after age 50.
Colon cancer has become a reality for many people younger than age 50, and it’s the only group where incidence rates are on the rise. As of 2017, 11% of rectal cancer diagnoses occur in those under 50. At this time, no direct cause has been proven to explain this rise in younger patients: however, the decline in colon cancers in older patients is thought to be secondary to move screening of patients and early detection. Never be embarrassed to discuss your cancers. We are here to listen and to help.
If you have a history of adenomatous polyps (adenomas), you are at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. This is especially true if the polyps are large, if there are many of them, or if any of them show dysplasia.
If you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including either ulcerative colitis or Chron's disease, your risk of colorectal cancer is increased.
Most colorectal cancers are found in people without a family history of colorectal cancer. Still, as many as 1 in 5 people who develop colorectal cancer have other family members who have had it. People with a history of colorectal cancer in a first degree relative (parent, sibling, and child) are at increased risk. The risk is even higher if that relative was diagnosed with cancer when they were younger than 45, or if more than one first-degree relative is affected. If you have a family history of adenomatous polyps or colorectal cancer, contact us about the possible need to begin screening before age 50.
About 5% to 10% of people who develop colorectal cancer have inherited gene changes (mutations) that can cause family cancer symptoms and lead to them getting the disease.
African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the United States. The reasons for this are not yet understood. Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) have one of the highest colorectal cancer risks of any ethnic group in the world.
Yes! All men and women should be screened for colon cancer. Your individual risk factors - such as ethnicity, lifestyle and family history - will determine when you should start getting checked. For most it is recommended that colon cancer screening should begin at age 50.
WHEN SHOULD I GET SCREENED?
|IF YOU...||THEN YOU SHOULD...|
|Are experiencing symptoms||immediately|
|Have a family history of colon cancer or polyps||At age 40 or 10 years before the age of the youngest case in your immediate family (mother, father, sister, brother)|
|Are African American||Get screened at age 45|
|Have a genetic link to colon cancer such as Lynch Syndrome, FAP, etc.||Varies and get screened before age 50|
|Have a personal history of cancer||Varies and get screened before age 50|
|Have ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease||Varies and get screened before age 50|
|Are 50 years old and don’t fit into any of the above categories||Get screened Now!|
- If you are experiencing symptoms you should get check immediately.
- If you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps you should get checked at age 40 or 10 years before the age of the youngest case in your immediate family (mother, father, sister, brother)
- If you are African American you should get checked at age 45
- If you have a genetic link to colon cancer such as Lynch Syndrome, FAP, etc. you should get screened before age 50
- If you have a personal history of cancer you should get screened before age 50
- If you have ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease you should get screened before age 50.
- If you are 50 years old and don’t fit into any of the above categories you should get screened now.
Screening for Colon Cancer:
The following are screening Tests Options that we offer at Hunterdon Digestive Health.
- Colonoscopy - “Gold Standard” - A colonoscopy is the most effective way to detect and remove polyp, which helps prevent colon cancer. First, patients are sedated to increase their comfort during the procedure. At our practice, you have two options for sedation. You can either have a board-certified anesthesiologist preform the sedation. Alternatively, Dr. Sinha, who is certified and expertly trained, can perform conscious sedation. Dr. Sinha will use a thin and flexible tube with a lighted video camera on its tip to examine your colon. This will allow Dr. Sinha to locate and remove polyp from the colon. After she removes any polyps (if detected), they are sent to a pathologist. A pathologist is doctor who specializes in diagnosing and characterizing gastrointestinal disease. Here at Hunterdon Digestive Health, you can choose either of our two locations (Hunterdon or Somerset) based on your personal preference.
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy - A flexible sigmoidoscopy is like a colonoscopy. The main difference is that Dr.Sinha uses a shorter tube to examine the lower part of your colon. In addition, you do not need an entire bowel prep and the procedure can be done after enema cleansing. Sigmoidoscopy’s can be performed without sedation if you prefer.
- Virtual Colonoscopy - A virtual colonoscopy (VC), also known as a CT colonography, is an alternative option performed by a radiologist for a selective number of patients. This procedure uses CT scan technology to create 2-D and 3-D images of your large bowel and colon. Virtual colonoscopy’s do not require sedation, but has limitations.
- Cologuard - Cologuard is a noninvasive screening option that is available by prescription only. This test is simple! You can use it at home, and it does not require special preparation, time off, changes in diet, or medication. As the only FDA-approved test based on Stool DNA science, it finds 92% of colon cancers, and 69% of high-risk precancers.
- Pill Cam: A Colon Exam in a Capsule - For this test, you are asked to swallow a small camera capsule which allows Dr.Sinha to see video images of the patients colon .This innovative capsule endoscopy provides clear video images of the colon to detect polyps with a noninvasive and patient-friendly device. Sedation is not required for the Pill Cam test.
- Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) for Colorectal Cancer - This simple, painless, and user-friendly test can be done in the comfort of your own home. It uses antibodies to detect even the smallest traces of blood in the stool. These small traces of blood could be possible indicators of diseases, including colorectal cancer.
After your procedure (any colon cancer screening test of you choosing) Dr. Sinha will then discuss a treatment plan that is best suited for your needs
Colon cancer screening tests save lives!
Experiencing symptoms and not sure if you need to get screened? Newly diagnosed and confused about what to ask? Or maybe you just need someone to talk to who has been where you are. We can help you make sense of where to go from here. At Hunterdon Digestive Health through our exceptional technology with extraordinary care, we will arm you with the information, resources and support to take your health in your hands and make decisions with confidence.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a best in class gastroenterologist regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.