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Colorectal Cancer Highly Treatable if Detected Early March 13, 2008

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Rebecca Sylvester at 706/828-2394.

AUGUSTA, Ga. – March 11, 2008 – Colorectal cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in American men and women and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

This disease strikes more than 150,000 people a year, and more than 50,000 were expected to die in 2007.

But there is hope. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer rates have dropped over the past 15 years, with better screenings and treatments cited as an important factor in the decrease.

University Hospital Nurse Practitioner Victoria Burt encouraged viewers to seek regular screenings on today’s NBC Augusta Healthy U segment at 11 a.m.

“March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and an important time to bring awareness to the fact that early detection is simple and painless and it saves lives,” Ms. Burt said.

According to Ms. Burt, here are some important facts to remember regarding colorectal cancer:

Who is at risk?

  • People that are 50 and older account for 90 percent of cases
  • People with a family history of colorectal cancer
  • People with a personal history of colorectal cancer, polyps (growths in the colon) or other inflammatory bowel diseases

What are some possible signs of colon cancer?

  • Change in bowel habits or change in the look of the stool (narrower)
  • Blood in the stool (bright red or very dark)
  • Weight loss for an unknown reason
  • Diarrhea, constipation, gas pains, bloating or vomiting

What are some tests used to diagnosis this?

  • Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) or Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) looks for blood in the stool which may mean cancer or a bleeding polyp
  • Double Contrast Barium Enema
  • Sigmoidoscopy/Colonoscopy

What is a Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy?

  • Both use a lighted flexible tube with a camera on it to examine the inside of the colon or rectum for cancer or polyps
  • Doctor may remove polyps during this procedure

When should I have one of these tests?

The American Cancer Society recommends the following screenings for men and women 50 years old and older:

  • Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) or Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) every year
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
  • Or both (FOBT/FIT and Flexible Sigmoidoscopy) together every 5 years
  • Double Contrast Barium Enema every 5 years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years

What is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer?

  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit high-fat foods.
  • Exercise at least for 30 minutes 5 or more days a week.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Get recommended screenings.

“Depending on your risk factors, your health care provider may recommend you be screened earlier,” Ms. Burt said. “Early detection through the screenings can lead to early treatment, which improves chances of survival.”

For more information, call University Hospital’s Cancer Answer Line at 706/828-2522 or toll free at 866/869-2522.

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