Colorectal cancer the No. 2 cause of cancer deaths | PostIndependent.com
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Colorectal cancer the No. 2 cause of cancer deaths

While lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, cancer of the colon and rectum is now the second. Colorectal cancer now accounts for almost one-third of cancer deaths in men and one-fourth the cancer deaths in women. The next leading causes of cancer death are breast and prostate cancer.The American Cancer Society estimates there will be approximately 106,680 new cases of colon cancer and 41,000 new cases of rectal cancer in 2006; combined, the two will cause 55,170 deaths.While doctors do not know the exact cause of most colorectal cancer, they have identified certain health and lifestyle factors that appear to increase the risk for – the chance of getting – the disease.The chances for developing colorectal cancer increase in people over the age of 50. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), nine out of 10 people with colorectal cancer are over 50.Also at risk are people who have already had the disease.People with a history of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have increased risk for colorectal cancer. Both inflame the colon over a long period of time. People with this condition should be tested often for colorectal cancer from a young age.As with other types of cancer, having a family history of colorectal cancer is a risk factor. According to the ACS, this is especially true if a person has a family member who developed the disease before the age of 60.Some families also show a tendency to develop groups of polyps in the colon or rectum. Cancer often develops from individual or groups of polyps.Even some ethnic groups appear to be more susceptible to colorectal cancer, including Jews of Eastern European descent. People known as Ashkenazi Jews are known to have a higher rate of colorectal cancer.Diet can also affect the risk for colorectal cancer. Foods rich in animal fat can increase the risk for this type of cancer. Smoking, being overweight and an inactive lifestyle are also considered risk factors.Heavy use of alcohol has also been linked to colorectal cancer.Two tests are available to determine the presence of colorectal cancer. A colonoscopy allows a doctor, using a flexible hollow lighted tube with a video camera attached, to inspect the inside of the entire colon for signs of cancer or polyps. A sigmoidoscopy allows a doctor to inspect the lower parts of the colon, called the sigmoid colon and the descending colon, for signs of cancer or polyps. The doctor decides, depending on your family and individual medical history, how often your should have the test, usually once every 10 years.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com


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