MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center encourages colonoscopy screenings at Age 45 as best defense against colorectal cancer

By: Mehrdad Saliminejad, M.D., medical director, Advanced Endoscopy Services, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis in men and women in the United States and the third leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 106,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer and more than 46,000 people will be diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2023. When it comes to your health, colorectal cancer is a disease that can’t be overlooked.

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last several inches of the colon. Together, they’re often referred to as colorectal cancer. Most cases of colorectal cancer begin as small, benign clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps.

Over time these polyps can become cancerous. Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screenings beginning at age 45 — five years sooner than previously recommended — for people with an average risk of colorectal cancer. It’s important to identify and remove the polyps before they turn into cancer.

There are certain risk factors that may increase a person’s chance of developing these polyps or colorectal cancer:

  • Not physically active
  • Very overweight
  • Long-term smoker
  • Heavy drinker
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • A poor diet that is low in fruit, vegetables, and fiber, and high in fat or processed meats

If you haven’t been screened yet and are over the age of 45, please make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss screening options. You should be screened at least every 10 years, sometimes more frequently depending on your family history and your physician’s recommendation.

It’s also important to be aware of any changes in your body that could be warning signs of colorectal cancer, like:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty all the way
  • Rectal bleeding, dark stools, or blood in the stool (often, though, the stool will look normal)
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

Should the need arise, the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center is a leader in treating patients with early and advanced colorectal cancer. Surgery to remove cancerous tissue is a primary treatment at all stages of colorectal cancer. The MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute has access to minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgery to cover the entire surgical gamete for colorectal cancers.

Want to schedule an appointment? Call (877) 696-3622.

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