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June 25 • 12:12 PM
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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month


Screening and Early Detection Key to Effective Treatment


03/16/2012 - March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and a good time to learn more about colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) and how it can be prevented or best treated. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States for both men and women combined. This year, approximately 140,000 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed and 56,000 people will die from the disease. "But colorectal cancer is a disease that can be prevented through regular screenings, a healthy diet and regular exercise," explained Dr. Michael Trevisani, a colorectal surgeon and Vice President Medical Affairs/Chief Medical Officer of UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital and Medical Director of UHS Delaware Valley Hospital.

Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?

The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age. All men and women aged 50 and older are at risk for developing colorectal cancer, and should be screened. Some people are at a higher risk and should be screened at an age younger than 50, including those with a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease; colorectal cancer or polyps; or ovarian, endometrial or breast cancer.

How can I lower my risk?

To lower your risk of colorectal cancer, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommends that you:

· Get regular colorectal cancer screenings after age 50. (Consult with your health care provider to receive earlier screenings if there is a personal or family history as described above.) Between 80-90% of colorectal cancer patients are restored to normal health if their cancer is detected and treated in the earliest stages.

· Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet.

· If you use alcohol, drink only in moderation. If you use tobacco, quit. If you don't use tobacco, don't start. Alcohol and tobacco in combination are linked to colorectal cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers.

· Exercise for at least 20 minutes three to four days each week. Moderate exercise such as walking, gardening or climbing steps may help.

Why is it important to have regular screenings?

Since there are very few symptoms associated with colorectal cancer, regular screening is essential. Screening is beneficial for two main reasons: colorectal cancer is extremely preventable if polyps that lead to the cancer are detected and removed, and it is very curable if the cancer is detected in its early stages. Dr. Trevisani commented,"Between 80-90% of patients are restored to normal health if the cancer is detected and treated in the earliest stages. However, the cure rate drops to 50% or less when diagnosed in the later stages."

Which medical providers provide colorectal screening?

Primary care providers can perform annual fecal occult blood testing ( a simple chemical test that can detect hidden blood in the stool) and digital rectal exams. Gastroenterologists, surgeons, and medical providers trained to do so perform additional essential, recommended screenings, including colonoscopies. Consult your healthcare provider regarding which screening procedure is right for you and how often you should be screened. Colorectal cancer screening costs are covered by Medicare and many commercial health plans. For information about scheduling a screening colonoscopy at UHS Delaware Valley Hospital, call 865-2235.

UHS Delaware Valley Hospital, now celebrating its 60th anniversary, is a 25- bed facility based in Walton and offering diagnostic and treatment services, acute care and 24-hour emergency care. The hospital is a member of UHS, a locally owned, not-for-profit, 916-bed hospital and health care system serving the Greater Binghamton region.

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