The number of deaths from colorectal cancer has been dropping steadily in both men and women for several decades, according to the American Cancer Society. The reasons for this decline include early detection and improvements in screening methods; yet, many choose to either postpone or totally skip these potentially life-saving screening tests, thus keeping colorectal cancer as the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States and the second leading cause in men.
Almost all colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum, the majority of which take 10-15 years before developing into cancer and may not cause any symptoms until the cancer is well-established. That’s why screening is so important. With regular screenings, most polyps can be found and removed before they advance to becoming malignant, thereby preventing cancer from occurring. Screenings can also find colorectal cancer at an early stage, where there is a greater chance that treatment will be most effective and may even result in a cure.
ACS guidelines recommend that, starting at age 45, people who are not at an increased risk due to family history, get a screening for colorectal cancer. If you have a family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, talk with your doctor about what your options are and how to reduce your risk. You may also want to begin screening earlier than age 45, or even receive genetic counseling to review your family medical history.
The type of treatment for colorectal cancer depends largely on the stage of the cancer. The three primary treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy and
radiation. In addition to these treatments, targeted therapies, including immunotherapy, may be used for cases of more advanced cancer. Targeted therapies are drugs that target specific malfunctions (DNA mutations) in the genes or proteins of cells that allow cancer cells to grow uncontrollably; these drugs, which are usually in pill form, may be given alone or in conjunction with traditional chemotherapy. Some patients with advanced colon cancer may also have a chance to benefit from specific immunotherapies. These are drugs that use your body’s immune system to attack and fight cancer cells. The development of more immunotherapies is an area of ongoing research that shows great promise in the treatment of many types of cancer.
Screening remains the number one way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer and/or treat early stage cancer. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that if everyone over 45 had regular screenings to detect pre-cancerous polyps, we could reduce colorectal cancer deaths by 50-60%. In addition to early detection, treatment for colorectal cancer has vastly improved over the last few decades. As a result, there are now more than a million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.
World-Class Cancer Treatment Close to Home
Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) has put together a network of expert, board-certified physicians who bring world-class cancer treatments to local communities, both large and small, across the state. With nearly 100 locations, FCS is the largest independent oncology/hematology group in the United States. That status puts the practice on the leading edge of clinical trial research and gives FCS physicians access to the newest, most innovative treatments.
Florida Cancer Specialists treats patients with all types of cancer, and offers a number of services, such as an in-house specialty pharmacy, an in-house pathology lab and financial counselors at every location, that deliver the most advanced and personalized care in your local community.
For more information, visit FLCancer.com
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