NEW CITY – During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert inform residents that the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that screening should begin at age 45 for people at average risk of colorectal cancer. Screening can be done either with a sensitive test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool (a stool-based test) or with an exam that looks at the colon and rectum (a visual exam). Screening is the process of looking for cancer or pre-cancer in people who don’t have any symptoms of the disease. Regular colorectal cancer screening tests can help prevent cancer by finding (and removing) polyps before they turn into cancer and can also help find cancer early. When colorectal cancer is found early, it can be more easily and successfully treated.
“Talk to your health care provider about which colorectal screening tests might be good options for you; also talk to your insurance provider about your coverage. No matter which test you choose, the most important thing for you to do is to get screened,” said Dr. Ruppert. For more information about colorectal cancer screening guidelines, visit http://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/acs-recommendations.html. Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. It usually starts from polyps (small growths) on the lining of the colon or rectum. Polyps and colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms, especially at first. It can take many years for a polyp to develop into colorectal cancer.
Some people have certain risk factors that make them more likely to develop this type of cancer and to get it at an earlier age. This may mean they should start screening earlier or get tested more often than other people. One of these risk factors is a family history of colon cancer or pre-cancerous polyps, especially in parents, brothers and sisters, or children. Family history of other colon problems and your own personal history can also increase risk. For example, you are more likely to get colon cancer if you have had pre-cancerous colon polyps in the past. Having other conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or type 2 diabetes, can also increase your risk of colon cancer.
Many lifestyle-related factors have been linked to colorectal cancer risk such as being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, smoking, heavy alcohol use, and certain diets that are high in red meats (such as beef, pork, lamb, or liver) and processed meats. It is important to talk to your doctor about your colorectal cancer risk, which screening tests are right for you, and when you should get them. The Cancer Services Program of the Hudson Valley Region offers FREE colorectal cancer screening tests and follow-up services if you are uninsured (or under-insured) and meet eligibility requirements. For more information, call 1-855-277-4482 or visit www.health.ny.gov/cancerservicesprogram. To learn more about colorectal cancer, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer.html.