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Getting ahead of Colorectal Cancer

  • 04.18.2015

colorectal cancer


For the past 20 years, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been steadily going down. This is due to three key factors: more prevalent screening, better screening methods and better treatment. Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in either the colon or the rectum. Most colorectal cancers start as a polyp in the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Only certain types of polyps (called adenomas) can become cancer, but cancer screening has been very effective in finding these polyps early, enabling surgeons to remove them before they can become cancerous.


  • Your risk gets higher as you get older
  • A history of having polyps
  • A history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Being African American or Ashkenazi
  • Having Type 2 diabetes
  • Having familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (also called Lynch syndrome)


  • A diet high in red meats (beef, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (like hot dogs, bologna, and lunch meat) 
  • Cooking meats at very high heat (frying, broiling, or grilling)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Being very overweight (or obese)
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use
2014 Colorectal Cancer Projections
new cases of colon cancer
new cases of colon and rectal cancer
deaths from colorectal cancer
deaths from colorectal cancer

Screening is the Best Defense

Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the best ways to help prevent colorectal cancer. Screening can find polyps that can be removed before they have the chance to turn into cancer. Screening can also help find colorectal cancer early, when it is small and more likely to be cured.

  • If you have no known risk factors, begin screening at age 50
  • Those with risk factors should talk with their doctor about starting screening at a younger age or getting screened more often

Screening test - SNCC
Screening tests

  • Fecal occult blood test and fecal immunochemical test: Samples of stool (feces) are checked for blood, which might be a sign of a polyp or cancer (mostly to find cancer)
  • The following tests find both cancer and polyps:
    – Sigmoidoscopyxible, lighted tube is put into the rectum and lower colon to check for polyps and cancer
    – Colonoscopy: A longerxible tube is used to look at the entire colon and rectum
  • Double contrast barium enemais is an x-ray test of the colon and rectum
  • CT colonographyis is a type of CT scan of the colon and rectum

 Fight Colorectal Cancer - Sierra Nevada Cancer Center
How to Fight Colorectal Cancer

  • Increase the intensity and amount of physical activity
  • Limit intake of red and processed meats
  • Get the recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits
  • Avoid obesity and weight gain around the midsection
  • Avoid too much alcohol (2 drinks a day for men, one drink a day for women)

Cancer Treatment  - Sierra Nevada Cancer Center

  • The four main types of treatment for colorectal cancer are:
    – Primary treatment – surgery
    – Radiation therapy – before, after or instead of surgery
    – Chemotherapy – before or after surgery
    – Targeted therapies (like monoclonal antibodies)
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