How to prevent the development of colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer can sometimes be associated with known risk factors for the disease. Many risk factors are modifiable though not all can be avoided.
Diet appears to be associated with colorectal cancer risk. Among populations that consume a diet high in fat, protein, calories, alcohol, and meat (both red and white) and low in calcium and folate, colorectal cancer is more likely to develop than among populations that consume a low-fat, high-fiber diet. One study has found that a diet low in fat and high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables does not reduce the risk of colorectal cancer recurrence during a 3- to 4-year period. A diet high in saturated fat combined with a sedentary lifestyle may increase the risk of colorectal cancer. There is also evidence that smoking cigarettes may be associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
The strategy for reducing colorectal cancer deaths is simple. For normal risk individuals, screening tests begin at age 50 and the preferred approach is a screening colonoscopy every 10 years; an alternate strategy consists of annual stool test for blood and a flexible sigmoidoscopic exam every 3 to 5 years. Colonoscopic surveillance (also called screening colonoscopy) needs to be available at more frequent intervals for individuals at high risk for colon cancer (for instance, those with a personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps; family history of colorectal cancer; non-hereditary polyposis; colorectal cancer; or a pre-disposing condition such as inflammatory bowel disease. (Medicare provides for surveillance colonoscopy no more frequently than once every two years for those at high risk.) Recent observations suggest regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or aspirin, reduce the chances of colorectal cancer death by 30-50%. These drugs also have risks, particularly intestinal bleeding, and patients should consult their physician as to whether regular use of these agents is appropriate. Folate, calcium, and post-menopausal estrogens each have a modest protective benefit against colon cancer. A high fiber (vegetables) and low fat diet, regular exercise, maintenance of normal body weight and cessation of smoking are also beneficial. None of the measures is as effective as or should replace colorectal cancer screening.
More information on colorectal cancer
What is colorectal cancer? - Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. Colorectal cancer includes cancerous growths in the colon, rectum, anus, and appendix.
What causes colorectal cancer? - Colorectal cancer is a disease resulting from mutations in epithelial cells lining the gastrointestinal tract.
What're the risk factors for colorectal cancer? - Risk factors for colorectal cancer include family history of colon cancer, age, smoking, diet, virus.
What're the symptoms of colorectal cancer? - Symptoms of colorectal cancer vary depending on the location of the cancer within the colon or rectum, though there may be no symptoms at all.
How is colorectal cancer screened and diagnosed? - Colorectal cancer usually is diagnosed by a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Screening for colorectal cancer is recommended in individuals who are at increased risk.
What's treatment for colorectal cancer? - Treatment for colorectal cancer depends mostly on the size, location and extent of the tumor. Surgery to remove the tumor is the most common treatment.
How to prevent the development of colorectal cancer? - Colorectal cancer can be associated with known risk factors. Many risk factors are modifiable though not all can be avoided.
What is a colon polyp? - Colon polyps are growths that stick out from the lining of the lower intestine. Polyps can develop anywhere in your large intestine.
What're the symptoms of colon polyps? - Smptoms of colon polyps include rectal bleeding, blood in stool, constipation or diarrhea, pain or obstruction.
What's the treatment for colon polyps? - For people with familial colon polyps, complete removal of the large intestine and rectum eliminates the risk of cancer.