March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Posted on: March 05, 2018

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer affects over 140,000 Americans every year. It’s the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. 

“The important thing people need to remember is that colorectal cancer is preventable,” said David Shibata, MD, surgical oncologist with Methodist Healthcare and West Cancer Center, and Sheinberg Endowed Chair of Surgery in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. “If you catch this cancer early, it is curable.” 

Dr. Shibata is one of the leaders of the ColoCare Consortium, comprised of seven leading international institutions for cancer care and research, with the goal to determine how lifestyle, medical history and other factors such as genetics and molecular features might determine both short-term and long-term survival rates. This is especially important for the Mid-South because the Mississippi Delta Region is one of three geographic areas a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention describes as having elevated colorectal cancer death rates compared to other areas of the country. The Mississippi Delta Region has a 40% higher death rate. 

“We hope that by gathering this wealth of information including blood samples, tumor samples, lifestyles, behavior, and other information from across the seven centers within the consortium, it will provide us with a comprehensive look at who contracts colon cancer and how patients respond to treatment,” said Dr. Shibata.

Dr. Shibata says there are some things you can do to help prevent colon cancer such as exercising, eating a diet rich with fruits and vegetables and also eating high-fiber and low-fat food, limiting your how much alcohol you drink, and not using tobacco.

There are several treatments for colorectal cancer. Surgery is often an important component and depending on how advanced the cancer is chemotherapy and radiation may also be required.

Dr. Shibata stresses that catching colorectal cancer early is key. He says a colonoscopy is gold standard when it comes to screening for colon cancer; however, there are other options including virtual colonoscopies, x-rays and stool tests. He says it’s important to talk with your primary care physician to determine which screening method is best for you.

Categories: Providers Medicine