Cancer: The seven letters nobody ever wants to hear!!!

By Andrew Baddoo, MD “Doc, do I have cancer?” is a question that is asked around the world in most doctors’ offices and hospitals. Cancer is a diagnosis nobody would wish on their worst enemy but it is something most of us are not doing enough about or taking the necessary steps to prevent.
Cancer is a bad disease and in most cases is associated with high mortality. At least one-third of all cancer cases are preventable. Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer. Early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment. There are two major components of early detection of cancer: education to promote early diagnosis and screening. Recognizing possible warning signs of cancer and taking prompt action leads to early diagnosis. Increased awareness of possible warning signs of cancer, among physicians, nurses and other health care providers, as well as among the general public can have a great impact on the disease.
Some early signs of cancer include lumps, sores that fail to heal, abnormal bleeding, persistent indigestion, and chronic hoarseness. Early diagnosis is particularly relevant for cancers of the breast, cervix, mouth, larynx, colon and rectum, and skin.
Screening refers to the use of simple tests across a healthy population in order to identify individuals who have the disease, but do not yet have any symptoms. Examples include breast cancer screening using mammography and cervical cancer screening using cytology screening methods, including Pap smear, and flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy for screening of colorectal cancer.
In this article we will focus on colorectal cancer. What is colorectal cancer? Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. Sometimes it is called colon cancer. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus. Screening for colorectal cancer helps prevent this disease. If screening detects precancerous polyps (abnormal growths), they can be removed before they turn into cancer. If it finds colorectal cancer early treatment works best.
The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with advancing age. More than 90% of cases occur in people aged 50 or older. Other risk factors include having: •Inflammatory bowel disease (A group of chronic intestinal diseases characterized by inflammation of the bowel — the large or small intestine. The most common types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease). •A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps. •A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome). Lifestyle factors that may contribute to increased risk of colorectal cancer include: •Lack of regular physical activity. •Low fruit and vegetable intake. •A low-fiber and high-fat diet. •Overweight and obesity. •Alcohol consumption. •Tobacco use.
At least six out of every 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented if all men and women aged 50 years or older were screened routinely.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening for men and women aged 50–75 using high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy. (The decision to be screened after age 75 should be made on an individual basis. If you are older than 75, ask your doctor if you should be screened.) FOBT: you put tiny samples of your stool on a special card or cloth and send it to a lab. The lab uses chemicals to find blood that you can’t see with the naked eye. SIGMOIDOSCOPY: Sigmoidoscopy (SIG-moy-DAH-skuh-pee) enables the physician to look at the inside of the large intestine from the rectum COLONOSCOPY: Colonoscopy (koh-luh-NAH-skuh-pee) lets the physician look inside your entire large intestine, from the lowest part, the rectum, all the way up through the colon to the lower end of the small intestine. Symptoms of colorectal cancer are numerous and nonspecific. They include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, change in bowel habits, narrow stools, diarrhea or constipation, red or dark blood in stool, weight loss, abdominal pain, cramps, or bloating. So if you are 50 or older, start getting screened now. REFERENCES: 1. WHO website for cancer prevention and screening 2. CDC website for colorectal cancer and prevention 3. United States Preventive Services Task Force recommendation on colorectal cancer Dr. Baddoo is a Nephrologist and also specializes in high blood-related diseases, with offices in East and West Orange. Please direct all questions to editor of Amandla at

Posted by on Mar 24 2013. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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