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Health > Under the Rainbow3/10/10 IS Online

Colorectal Cancer Check

Screenings can lead to early detection and treatment.

By Melanie Yamaguchi

If you’re 50 years or older or have a family history of colorectal cancer, you could be at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer, which includes cancers of the colon and the rectum, usually begins as small, benign clumps of cells called polyps. It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. and the second leading cause of cancer deaths.

An estimated 147,000 new cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. last year, killing 50,000 people, according to the American Cancer Society. In Hawai‘i, about 710 people were diagnosed with the disease, killing 210 people.

The risk of getting colorectal cancer increases with age and occurs in both men and women.

“The most important thing to remember is that colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable when found early,” says Milton Hirata, communications director of the American Cancer Society Hawaii Pacific, Inc.

A colonoscopy allows doctors to examine the colon and rectum internally, using a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope. During the procedure, polyps may be removed and tissue may be obtained for biopsy. Routine colonoscopy should begin at age 50 or earlier if there is a family history of colorectal cancer.

Other preventive measures for colorectal cancer and other cancers include eating a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society, Kapi‘olani Community College Culinary Arts Program, and Queen’s, Kapiolani and Castle Medical Centers have joined to spread awareness of colorectal cancer by sponsoring cooking demonstrations of vegetarian dishes at the medical centers. Visit www.cancer.org for more information.

 
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