Colorectal Cancer: FAQs

Anyone can get colorectal cancer. Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third most common cause of cancer death in the United States. Nearly 137,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year and over 50,000 die. It is overall the third most common cause of cancer death in the U.S., behind lung cancer and breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. When men and women are considered separately, colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in either sex.

Very little hard data exists indicating that consumption of lactose products or that lactose intolerance is a risk factor for colorectal cancer. However, much new literature suggests that probiotic therapy is healthy and that the microflora of the colon may be altered by dietary dairy products so that the risk for colon cancer is lessened.

No, there is no known correlation. Colorectal cancer is at least as common in men as women, but women tend to have longer colons.

There is no association between stomach (gastric) cancer and colon cancer, except in individuals with Hereditary Non­Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC). This is a rare genetic syndrome in which affected individuals are at risk of colorectal cancer, as well as other cancers including gastric cancer, at a young age. Individuals with a strong family history of colorectal cancer, or colon cancer and endometrial (uterus) cancer, may have this syndrome and may warrant genetic testing and/or screening with colonoscopy. Family history is defined as three or more affected relatives spanning two generations with at least one affected relative under age 50. Patients with familial polyposis also have an increased risk of gastric cancer. A personal or family history of stomach cancer should not be confused with colorectal cancer.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic functional problem of the gut, usually characterized by patterns of diarrhea and loose stools alternating with constipation. IBS may also be associated with abdominal cramping and pain. IBS is not associated with an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Patients with IBS have normal life expectancies but should follow the recommended screening guidelines appropriate to their population. If your IBS symptoms change from their usual behavior or regular pattern, or if you see blood in your stool, notify your physician and gastroenterologist.

In general, it is very uncommon for young people to get colorectal cancer if there is no family history and if the person is under 30. However, there are two well-­recognized hereditary syndromes in which cancer can develop in young people. The first is Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP). This is a disease in which affected people develop hundreds to thousands of precancerous polyps in the colon. Unless the colon is removed, 100% of these patients will get colorectal cancer, usually by their late 30s. The disease is inherited directly from an affected parent (autosomal dominant inheritance), and the average age for polyp development in this syndrome is the mid­-teens.

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If You Need Cancer Treatment

If you are looking for a Palmer cancer center to take care of your treatment, then you need to call to make an appointment soon. Seeking local Palmer colorectal cancer treatment can be easy, and you can access some of the most experienced cancer doctors in the area if you call today to make your appointment for a consultation.