In 2000, President Bill Clinton officially declared that March would be National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Since then, the month of March has allowed patients, physicians, survivors, and advocates to band together to raise awareness about the third-leading cause of cancer death among men and women. Although the American Cancer Society expects that there will be 95,520 new cases of colon cancer and 39,910 new cases of rectal cancer in 2017, colorectal cancer is largely preventable through routine screening colonoscopies.
Because we just finished celebrating Colon Cancer Awareness Month, here are some of the more recent advancements in the world of colon cancer:
Recommendations on the Fecal Immunochemical Test for screening
The U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer released new guidelines on the use of fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) for colon cancer screenings. These new guidelines underscore the important place that FIT holds in the “screening suite” of options that physicians provide patients.
Colon cancer incidence increasing among the young
Adults who were born in 1990 are twice as likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer and four times as likely to be diagnosed with rectal cancer as people born in 1950. What’s even more alarming is that 3 in 10 rectal cancer diagnoses are made in patients younger than 55 years of age. The best prevention is to be aware of your personal risk for colon cancer and rectal cancer, and be familiar with the symptoms of the disease.
Smoking and colon cancer
The link between smoking and colon cancer is well-established, but newer research associates cigarette smoking with an increased risk for synchronous colorectal cancers. If you are a smoker, it is time to formulate a working plan on how and when to quit.
Poor metabolic health in normal-weight, postmenopausal women
Obesity is a risk factor for colon cancer, but studies now show that even women of normal weight could be at risk. Postmenopausal women of normal weight with metabolically unhealthy phenotypes experienced an increased risk for colon cancer in a large prospective study. This emphasizes the importance of routine physicals with your primary care physician so your metabolic health can be evaluated.
Sigmoidoscopy can offer 17 years of protection
According to the U.K. Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Screening Trail, one flexible sigmoidoscopy can offer continued protection against colon cancer for 17 years and can reduce the risk for colon cancer by one-third.
Aspirin may increase GI bleeding but decrease colon cancer risk
Using aspirin long-term could put you at risk for gastrointestinal bleeding, but it could help lower your risk of colon cancer. More research needs to be done on the effects of aspirin, so talk to your doctor if you take aspirin frequently.
Genetics and colon cancer
According to recent research, about one-tenth of all patients with colorectal cancer have genetic mutations that increase their risk for colon cancer. Experts suggest that genetic testing may need to be employed more liberally to help prevent incidence within families (Source: Healio).
As new studies emerge and treatment options expand, you can count on us to keep you updated with the most recent findings in the field of colon health. Make sure to check our blog regularly, and don’t forget to consult our Colon-Healthy Recipes for meal ideas and Healthy Living Tips to help prevent colon cancer!