According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and in women, and the second most common cause of cancer deaths when men and women are combined. The death rate from colorectal cancer has been declining in both men and women for several decades. One of the factors contributing to the decrease is that colorectal polyps are being found more frequently through screenings and removed before they can develop into cancers. Through screening colorectal cancer is also being found earlier when the disease is easier to treat.
“Colorectal cancer is a highly preventable disease,” says Dr. Ashraf Almashhrawi, gastroenterologist with Hannibal Regional Medical Group. “Many people are hesitant to get a colonoscopy, but it can be a life-saving procedure.” There are several different screening tests available for colorectal cancer, however some of them give results which can be unclear or something abnormal is found so then patients will need to follow up with a colonoscopy. For this reason, a colonoscopy is known as the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening.
The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. You are considered average risk if you do not have a personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps, a family history of cancer, personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, confirmed or suspected hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome, or a personal history of getting radiation to the abdomen or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer.
“People at increased or high risk of colorectal cancer should start getting screened before age 45 and may need to be screened more frequently,” says Dr. Khulood Ahmed, gastroenterologist with Hannibal Regional Medical Group. You are at high risk for colorectal cancer if you have a strong family or personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps, personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome or a personal history of radiation to the abdomen or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer.
“Talk with your healthcare provider about which screening option is right for you,” says Dr. Almashhrawi. “No matter which test you choose, the most important thing is that you get checked.” It's important to keep in mind that if colorectal cancer is found at an early stage during screening, treatment is more likely to be effective. There are currently more than one million colon cancer survivors in the United States. To contact the gastroenterology office of Dr. Ahmed and Dr. Almashhrawi, call (573) 629-3500.
Hannibal Regional Gastroenterology