WHC Physician Encourages Screening
Woodland, CA, March 2, 2010 – Woodland Healthcare Colorectal Surgeon Dr. Thomas Magrino is urging people to get screened for colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) as part of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March.
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. Magrino.
To lower your risk of colorectal cancer, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommends:
- Getting regular colorectal cancer screenings after age 50.
- Eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet.
- If you use alcohol, drink only in moderation. If you use tobacco, quit. Alcohol and tobacco in combination are linked to colorectal cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers.
- Exercising for at least 20 minutes three to four days a week. Moderate exercise such as walking, gardening or climbing steps may help.
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 cancer are detected and removed and it is very curable if the cancer is detected in its early stages.
“Between 80 to 90 percent of patients are restored to normal health if the cancer is detected and treated in its earliest stages,” said Dr. Magrino. “However the cure rate drops to 50 percent or less when diagnosed in the later stages.”
High risk factors include personal or family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, those with a personal history of breast, uterine or ovarian cancer and those with chronic ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. 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.
The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons offers the following screening guidelines. Some of the tests recommended for people of average risk of getting colorectal cancer include digital rectal examination and fecal occult blood test, which screens for hidden blood in the stool, are recommended annually beginning at age 40. Flexible sigmoidoscopy, a test that allows the physician to look directly at the lining of the lower colon and rectum, is recommended every five years at age 50 or older. A colonoscopy, a test that allows the physician to look directly at the entire colon and rectum, is recommended every 10 years or a barium enema, an x-ray of the rectum and the entire colon, is recommended every five to 10 years.
Studies have shown that patients treated by colorectal surgeons – experts in the surgical or nonsurgical treatment of colon and rectal problems – are more likely to survive colorectal cancer and experience fewer complications. This is attributed to colorectal surgeons’ advanced training and the high volume of colon and rectal disease surgeries they perform.
An estimated 40,000 lives a year could be saved if men and women would get screened for colorectal cancer. Dr. Magrino adds colorectal cancer screening costs are covered by Medicare and many commercial health plans. “Despite the widespread availability of highly effective screening tests, colorectal cancer screening lags far behind screening for other cancers such as breast, cervical and prostate cancers,” said Dr. Magrino. “I urge people to make an appointment to get screened.”