What can I do to help prevent colorectal cancer?
Elisa Faybush, MD, a gastroenterologist at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz.
Question: What can I do to help prevent colorectal cancer?
Answer: Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States. A colonoscopy is a painless outpatient procedure that identifies and removes polyps before they become cancerous, actually preventing the development of colorectal cancer.
Symptoms of this cancer are not detectible until far into the progression, and sometimes there may be no symptoms at all.
Risk factors for colorectal cancer include:
- People older than 50: Once you are 50, it is recommended that you should have a baseline colonoscopy regardless if you have symptoms or not.
- Family history: If you have a strong family history of colorectal cancer you are at risk of getting it, too. However, most people who had colorectal cancer had no family history of the disease.
- Diet: A diet high in calories, protein and animal fat, and low in calcium also increase the chances of getting colorectal cancer.
- Lack of exercise: It is always important to stay healthy and exercise, and those who are not physically active or are smokers have an increased risk of getting colorectal cancer.
Prevention of colorectal cancer is as simple as calling your physician to talk with him or her about your history and your risks.
Reviewed March 2011