The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published an article highlighting the incidence of colorectal cancer, particularly among minorities. The study entitled “Colorectal Cancer: What You Should Know” was published by Consumer Updates and provides information on the best practices to prevent or deal with the disease.
There were over 136,000 people in the United States diagnosed with colorectal cancer last year, and more than 50,000 died from the disease, according to data from the National Cancer Institute. While colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer-related death across all ethnicities, the director of FDA’s Office of Minority Health, Jonca Bull, MD, noted that minorities are even more affected. “Early detection, referral, and treatment can significantly reduce disparities in deaths from colorectal cancer,” said Bull on the different strategies to fight the particularly high incidence of the malignancy among African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Alaska Natives.
The FDA released the article to stress the importance of cancer prevention and early detection, since according to the agency, screening can save lives through disease detection before symptoms are visible. Furthermore, it can help physicians identify and remove eventual growths or suspicious tissues before they bcome cancerous. Risk factors include smoking, history of inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, family history of colorectal cancer, prior history of colorectal cancer or colon polyps, and certain genetic syndromes.
Everyone should undergo colorectal screening after the age of 50 years and the FDA recommends patients to be particularly aware of some symptoms, including alterations in bowel habits, bright or dark blood in stool, stools narrower than usual, regular gas pains, bloating, fullness, or cramps, inexplicable weight loss, constant tiredness, vomiting.
“Regular screening, beginning at age 50, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer,” stated FDA’s expert on screening devices, Alberto Gutierrez, PhD. “People at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer should begin screening at a younger age, and may need to be tested more frequently. Currently, individuals have several options for testing based on their risks and preferences. You should talk with your doctor to determine which screening program is right for you.”
However, the agency recommends a visit to the doctor and discussion on the risks and potential options, which may include a colonoscopy, routine screening every 5 or 10 years (or annually), flexible sigmoidoscopy, fecal blood test (gFOBTor FIT test) or stool DNA test.
In addition, there are alternative ways to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, including regular exercise, a healthy diet and weight, low alcohol consumption, smoking cessation and avoiding second-hand smoke. The development of the disease can also be influenced by other factors, such as age, medical history, race or ethnicity.