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what you need to know about colorectal cancer

​What You Need to Know About Colorectal Cancer

July 31, 2020

Once you pass the age of 50, your risk of colorectal cancer increases. But the good news is, this deadly disease is preventable, beatable and treatable – the key is early detection

So take a few moments to learn what you can do to help you stay healthy, then take it upon yourself to take action, beginning with screening. You’ll feel great knowing you are helping do what you can to create a long and healthy life for yourself.

Some Facts You Should Know

"Colorectal Cancer is the third-leading cause of death for both men and women 50 years of age or older," says board-certified Gastroenterology specialist Sahil Mittal. "Recent guidelines suggest preventive screenings for colorectal cancer should begin at age 50 for those of average risk, or earlier if there is a history of the disease in the family or other risk factors."

  • Risk factors include personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps; women who have a personal or family history of ovarian, endometrial or breast cancer; and in some cases, men and women who have a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Most cases of colorectal cancer begin as polyps — small grape-sized growths of excess tissue on the inner surface of the intestine. Not all are cancerous, but they could become so if they are not removed.
  • The “gold standard” of colorectal screening is the colonoscopy. A colonoscopy allows your doctor to look inside your colon and rectum.
  • Patients are usually sedated during this procedure, and the doctor may will remove polyps or take tissue samples from any areas that don’t look normal. These samples will be microscopically examined for the presence of cancer.
  • Almost 2/3 of colorectal cancer deaths are preventable with simple screening and prevention methods.

"The 5-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is more than 90 percent when detected in the earliest stages," Dr. Mittal says.

Some Ways You Can Help Prevent Colorectal Cancer:

  • Participate in regular exercise
  • Maintain a normal weight
  • Eat a diet high in vegetables and fruits; lighten up on red meat
  • Drink only in moderation and don’t smoke
  • Get regular screenings

Some Other Interesting Discoveries:

According to The New England Journal of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute researchers have reported that “baby” aspirin – a low dose of 81mg. – taken daily, reduced the reoccurrence of precancerous polyps in the colon of patients by 40 percent.

Consult your doctor before using any medications or vitamins – taking the wrong dosage, or a substance that interacts with other medications, can be very harmful.

Ready for a Screening?

Do you have a Kelsey-Seybold primary care physician? Are you between the ages of 45 and 70, in good health and have never had a colonoscopy? Then you could qualify for Kelsey-Seybold's Direct Access Colonoscopy Program, which fast tracks the colonoscopy process.

Headshot of Sahil Mittal, MD, MS

About the Author

Dr. Sahil Mittal is a gastroenterologist at Kelsey-Seybold's Main Campus, Katy Clinic, Pasadena Clinic, and West Grand Parkway Clinic. Dr. Mittal's numerous research efforts have dealt primarily with liver cancer, viral hepatitis and fatty liver. Besides liver disease, his clinical interests are functional bowel disorders and gastrointestinal cancer screening.

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