Being Informed Can Save Your Life
While colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, affecting approximately one in every 20 Americans, it’s also one of the most preventable, according to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center oncologist Sukeshi Arora, M.D. “If there is one thing I’d like for everyone to know, it’s that colorectal cancer can be prevented in most cases, or significantly slowed in others, just by doing a few simple things.”
Here are a few tips from Dr. Arora:
- Routine Screening – “As challenging as it may be to think about having a colonoscopy, this common outpatient procedure can save your life,” says Dr. Arora. She recommends adults have their first colonoscopy at age 45 and again every ten years. A colonoscopy can detect intestinal polyps, a key predictor of colorectal cancer before cancer develops, and preventive treatment can begin.
- Healthy Diet – According to Dr. Arora, diets that are high in fiber and low in fat can help prevent colorectal cancer. “If we eat foods that are easy to digest and that encourage regular bowel habits, we promote a healthy and efficient digestive system that will be less vulnerable to cancer.”
- Healthy Lifestyle – Maintaining a healthy body weight, getting plenty of exercises, avoiding tobacco, and reducing alcohol intake have all been shown in research to minimize the risk of colorectal cancer, says Dr. Arora. “Stress is also a risk factor associated with many cancers,” she adds.
- Family History – “Some cancers tend to follow families,” says Dr. Arora. “If other members of your family have had any type of digestive cancers, it would be wise to talk about it with your family physician.” A personalized monitoring and prevention plan, based on family history, will likely include a recommendation for beginning colonoscopies at an earlier age and having them more often.
Most of all, Dr. Arora stresses the importance of being proactive. “Colorectal cancer will not simply go away in its own,” she says. If colorectal cancer is ignored, it will likely grow and spread to other parts of the body, becoming either life-altering or life-threatening. “There are so many treatments and resources available these days,” she says. “If we have a chance to work in partnership with patients, great outcomes are possible.”
To learn more about colorectal cancer, or to schedule an appointment, visit UTHealthsaMDAnderson.org or call 210-450-1000.