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Health Information Colorectal Cancer: Knowing Your Risk
Can Save Your Life

Although colorectal cancer is considered highly preventable by health experts, it is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States for both men and women combined. In the United States, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates 55,170 people will die this year of a disease that can often be stopped if caught early.

The good news is that the death rate from colorectal cancer has been declining for the past 15 years, according to the ACS. Doctors credit the decreased numbers of people who get colorectal cancer to screenings, such as stool blood tests and colonoscopies. These and other tests can help doctors identify polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screenings can also detect colorectal cancer at its earliest stages when it is easier to treat and possibly cure.

So, if screenings can help save lives, why aren't more people getting them? "Many people don't consider themselves at risk for this disease," says Ece Mutlu, MD, a gastroenterologist at Rush, "The truth is that everyone is at risk; some groups are just at a higher risk," she says. These higher risk groups include:
 

  • Men and women 50 years of age and older
  • Anyone with a family history of colorectal cancer
  • Anyone who has had precancerous polyps
  • Anyone who uses tobacco, drinks alcohol to excess, is obese or leads a sedentary life
  • Anyone with a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis

A free online screening survey can help you determine if you are at risk for colorectal cancer. It was developed by Rush Health Associates and Rush University Gastroenterologists.

"Beginning screening at the appropriate age is the single most important thing you can do in the fight against colorectal cancer," says Marc Brand, MD, a surgeon at Rush and surgical director of the Sandra Rosenberg Registry for Hereditary and Familial Colon Cancer. "This online screening survey can be the first step in protecting colorectal health."

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month -- a great time to make an appointment for yourself or a loved one to be screened.

More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • Check out your risk of colon cancer using the questionnaire on the Rush Health Associates Web site.
  • Read what Dr. Brand has to say about Preventing Colorectal Cancer.
  • For more information about cancer treatment and care at Rush visit our Cancer Center home page.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

If you enjoyed this article and are not already a subscriber, subscribe today to Discover Rush Online. You'll receive health information, breaking medical news and helpful tips for maintaining your health each month via e-mail.

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