Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States according to the American Cancer Society. The ACS estimated that 141,210 people were diagnosed in 2011 with the disease, which claimed 50,000 lives in the same year.
However, colorectal cancer is one of the most treatable cancers when it is caught in the early stages. The physicians of Newton Medical Center have asked for a community call-to-action to raise awareness for colorectal cancer and encouraging screening – the key to saving lives.
Colorectal cancer occurs when cells in the colon or rectum, part of the body’s digestive track, become abnormal and divide without control, forming tumors. Physicians can screen for the disease using a number of techniques, but the standard colonoscopy remains the “medical gold standard” for detecting colon cancer.
According to hospital records, the number of Newton-area patients receiving a colonoscopy over the past three years has declined, even though the number of physicians who offer screening services has increased and the number of persons who turn 50 years of age or older has also increased.
“This is an ominous sign because it means that someone who shouldn’t get colon cancer is now at higher risk of being diagnosed with later-stage disease when the cancer is finally discovered,” said Val Gleason, vice president of physician services at NMC. “This is the tragedy of colorectal cancer: A simple colonoscopy saves lives, but only half of the people who are eligible actually get the test done when they should. “
Risk factors for developing colorectal cancer include:
- Age – People who are 50 years or older are at higher risk.
- Having polyps, abnormal growths that are benign.
- A previous history of cancer, especially colorectal cancer, but also ovarian, uterine or breast cancer.
- A family history of colorectal cancer.
- Ulcerative colitis or Crohn colitis.
- High consumption of red and processed meat and low consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- A sedentary lifestyle.
“Colorectal cancer is not only treatable when caught early, but may also be preventable by making lifestyle changes,” Gleason said. “We invite the community to make the decision today to lower your risk through preventative measures and regular screening.”
Newton Medical Center Medical Staff Resolution
The NMC Medical Staff has signed a resolution that asserts:
• Since colorectal cancer is preventable and detectable in its earliest stages, and
• Since only about half the people who should be the correct colorectal cancer screening actually do so,
• The doctors have asked for a Community Call to Action to make local citizens aware of the need for colorectal cancer screening. They have asked other physicians and the Medical Center to promote awareness of this dreadful disease among their own employees and their families. NMC doctors would like to eradicate colorectal cancer in the Greater Newton Area.
Newton Medical Center is a comprehensive 103-bed hospital in Newton, Kan., offering full-service medical care in Harvey, Butler and northern Sedgwick counties. For more information about Newton Medical Center, please call 316-283-2700 or visit www.newtonmedicalcenter.com.