Some 143,460 new cases of colorectal cancer are found each year. Your lifetime risk of coming down with it is around five percent as one in 18 Americans gets it. The mortality rates are approximately 50 percent for all cases. The outcome is very much related to the stage of the disease at diagnosis. So, detection of early stage tumors should improve prognosis. Carcinomas generally begin as polyps so their removal should reduce cancer incidence. So says Dr. Barbara Jung, Associate Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Colon cancer remains common and deadly. Effective screening measures are available. Any test is better than no test. Finally, family history is important.
She said that the guidelines for screening are that a person 50 years or older should have a colonoscopy every 10 years, or a CT colonography every five years, or a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years. As colon cancer is a slow growing cancer these apparently long periods are sufficient for protection.
Dr. Jung was speaking before the Northwestern Memorial Healthy Transitions Program®. Despite some of the bleak aspects of her subject, she concluded with something very positive. She said that exercise and a good diet have been shown to reduce colon cancer. Vegetarians are found to have less colon cancer. She said there were good studies to document the effectiveness of exercise in protecting against colon cancer.