By Ryan Waterfield
Colorectal cancer (the term used to describe both colon and rectal cancer) is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States and the third leading cause of cancer death (excluding skin cancers). The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 97,220 new cases of colon cancer and 43,030 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States in 2018, and it’s expected to cause about 50,630 deaths this year.
Many of the risk factors for colorectal cancers are outside of our control including age, race (African Americans have a greater risk of colon cancer than other races), inflammatory intestinal conditions, genetics, and radiation therapy directed at abdomen. Other risk factors are lifestyle related such as low-fiber, high-fat diets, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, and heavy alcohol consumption.
To Decrease Your Risk
- Exercise most days of the week.
- Stop smoking.
- Practice moderation in alcohol consumption.
- Avoid red meat.
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
Prevention is key
Regular screening for colorectal cancer is one of the most powerful weapons for prevention. The most common and effective form of screening is colonoscopy—especially for those with a family history or other high-risk factors.
To learn about screening options (in addition to colonoscopy) for colorectal cancer: https://www.cancer.gov/types/colorectal/screening-fact-sheet
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms that might indicate colorectal cancer:
- A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool, that lasts longer than four weeks
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
- A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, or you have signs or symptoms that may indicate colorectal cancer, speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Early detection means a higher likelihood of survival.
To learn about the stages of colorectal cancer: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/staged.html
There are a number of treatment options for colorectal cancer including: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy—a form of treatment that uses monoclonal antibodies to help treat metastatic (cancer that spreads) colorectal cancer.
Medications such as Xeloda, Avastin, and Cytoxan are commonly prescribed to help fight the spread of colorectal cancer. If you need prescription assistance to help afford the cost of Xeloda, Avastin, or Cytoxan, contact a SimplFill representative. Simpelfill provides expert patient assistance and helps patients and their families understand and access the appropriate medications.
Call Simplefill at 1.877.386.0206 or go to www.simplefill.com to start the application process online.