The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) echoes the importance of colorectal cancer screening ahead of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March.
In the United States, colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer and the second highest cancer death rate for men and women combined. ASCRS, Howard University Healthcare, and the National Medical Association call for an increase in colorectal screening, evaluation, and education in order to effectively diagnose colorectal cancer sooner.
“Colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates, especially among African Americans, have been spotlighted by the recent deaths of famous actors, Chadwick Boseman and Natalie Desselle-Reid,” emphasized Dr. Neil Hyman, President of ASCRS, and Dr. Erin King-Mullins, Chair of the ASCRS Diversity Task Force. They added, “Early detection of colorectal cancer is vital to proper treatment. We urge those over 45 to contact their doctor and get screened, especially if they have symptoms or a family history of colorectal cancer.”
African Americans show a higher mortality rate for colorectal cancer due to late-stage diagnosis of the disease. This is a consequence of lower rates of screening and evaluation when patients first present symptoms.
Screening is recommended to start at age 45 for all people, and it is covered by most, if not all, health insurers.
Through screening, precancerous lesions and early asymptomatic cancers can be identified and addressed. There are several different modalities for colorectal cancer screening, and these include colonoscopy, stool DNA, fecal occult blood test (FOBT), fecal immunochemical test (FIT), barium enema, or virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography).
The risks for developing colorectal cancer are increased for those with a family history of colorectal cancer or prior history of some other cancers. However, other risk factors such as obesity, high fat diets, diets low in fruit and vegetable consumption, smoking, excessive use of alcohol, and those with type 2 diabetes may be of greater significance.
The most common symptoms for colorectal cancer are change in bowel pattern or shape of stool that persists for several days, a continued sense of the need to pass stool, but can’t, blood from the anus, blood mixed in the stool, abdominal pain, rectal pain, weakness and or fatigue, and unintended weight loss.
To learn more, visit www.fascrs.org.
The 4,000+ member American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons is the premier society for colon and rectal surgeons and other surgeons dedicated to advancing and promoting the science and practice of the treatment of patients with diseases and disorders affecting the colon, rectum, and anus. Its board-certified colon and rectal surgeons complete a residency in general surgery, plus an additional year in colon and rectal surgery, and pass an intensive examination conducted by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery. For more information, visit www.fascrs.org.