March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal cancer – cancer of the colon and rectum – is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

What ages are at risk?

“Affecting men and women about equally, colorectal cancer can occur in young adults and even in teenagers. In 2020, it was reported that 1-in-5 cases occurred in patients between the ages of 20 and 24. However, the majority of cases occur in those older than 50,” says Greg Galler, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Kelsey-Seybold who cares for patients at the Berthelsen Main Campus and Tanglewood Clinic.

Alarmingly, most colorectal cancers will not exhibit noticeable symptoms until the disease has advanced. That’s why Kelsey-Seybold physicians recommend having regular colorectal cancer screenings usually beginning between ages 45 and 50 – or earlier if a close relative had colorectal cancer, if you’re dealing with inflammatory bowel disease, or any age if a physician feels there is a need.

 

Beating colorectal cancer

“The key to beating colorectal cancer is catching the disease in the early stages when it’s most treatable,” says Dr. Galler.

Here’s why: Most colon cancers begin as a benign polyp. If the polyp is detected and removed, most colon cancers can be prevented from forming – hence the importance of having regular preventive screenings.

Screening for colorectal cancer

“At Kelsey-Seybold, we offer a variety of colorectal cancer screening techniques to fit the individual patient’s situation. Colonoscopy is considered the ‘gold standard’ as the screening technique most preferred by the American College of Gastroenterology and Kelsey-Seybold,” says Dr. Galler.

Colonoscopies are an effective outpatient procedure performed by gastroenterologists at our Berthelsen Main Campus and Spring Medical and Diagnostic Center in medical suites dedicated to the detection, diagnosis, treatment, and removal of precancerous and cancerous abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract. Ask your doctor about recommending an appropriate screening schedule for you.

Do your part for better health

Screenings such as colonoscopies are certainly your best medical defense. However, by committing to a regular exercise regimen, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating more high-fiber foods, you can help decrease your risk of developing this cancer. Studies suggest that eating 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day may help avert an initial occurrence of colorectal cancer and also lower the risk of developing heart disease.

Greg Galler, M.D.