Written by Laura Roe Stevens
March is colorectal cancer prevention month. It’s more imperative
than ever to screen for this cancer now affecting Americans under the
age of 50. In fact the American Cancer Society (ACS) reported 72 percent
of new diagnoses among people in their 40s.
The ACS estimates that of the 95,520 people diagnosed this year, only 1
in 5 will have a family history with the disease. Colorectal cancer is
the third most common cancer in the U.S. and the second leading cause
of cancer death.
But there’s good news! Colorectal cancer is treatable with high success
rates when caught in the early stages. This is why screening is critical.
Torrance Memorial offers the latest in screening and diagnostic tests.
For example, the in-home Cologuard fecal occult test detects blood in
a patient’s stool, indicating a need for more testing, such as a
A colonoscopy removes polyps (where colon cancer starts) for tissue biopsy
and analysis in order to rule out or detect cancer. If cancer is found,
a team of physicians creates treatments based on its stage and severity
and the patient’s age and risk factors. Treatments may involve surgery
and/or chemotherapy (If cancer is detected during your colonoscopy and
the polyps are very small, your doctor may recommend removing them during
Risk factors for developing colorectal cancer include:
• Family history
• History of inflammatory bowel disease
• Diet high in fat and low in fiber
• Lifestyle factors, including drinking alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise
Early colorectal cancer may not cause any symptoms, so regular screenings
“Screening is the #1 way to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
If found early, a five-year survival rate is 90 percent, but that rate
drops to 14 percent when the disease is diagnosed in later stage,”
says Anne Milliken, RN, BSN, OCN, GI Oncology Nurse Navigator with Torrance
Memorial’s Cancer Resource Center and Hunt Cancer Institute.
If you are over age 50 and have not yet had a screening, contact your primary
care physician to schedule one soon.
For additional information about the colorectal cancer program at Torrance
Memorial, call our Nurse Navigator at 310-517-7077.