According to the American Cancer Society, excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers we’re working to shine a light on the importance of early detection and the difference it can make in survivorship.
Don’t Be in the Dark
Screenings save lives. Family history, ethnicity and race can put you at a higher risk for colorectal cancer so it is important to talk with your doctor regarding screening recommendations.
A colonoscopy is considered the “reference standard” screening study for colon polyps and cancer. During a colonoscopy a gastroenterologist looks at the inner lining of the colon (large intestine) for any polyps- small clumps of cells that have formed on the lining- and then will remove them. Most colon polyps are harmless but over time some can develop into cancer. If they are cancerous finding them earlier when the disease is easier to treat is important. If caught early it is highly curable. Yet only about a third of cases are diagnosed in early, highly curable stages of the disease.
- Begin screenings at age 50 if you’re not at high risk or experiencing any of the warning signs.
- Begin screenings at age 45 if you’re African American or at increased risk due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or colitis.
- If you have a family history of colon cancer you may need a colonoscopy at age 40, or 10 years before the earliest diagnosis in your family.
- If you are a young adult between 20 and 49 and experiencing symptoms be proactive and talk to your doctor about having a colonoscopy. Young onset colorectal cancer is on the rise with 10 percent of new colorectal patients under the age of 50.
Know Your Family Health History
Genetic counseling for a personal or family history of colorectal cancer is indicated for individuals with any of these red flags:
- Personal or family history of colorectal cancer diagnosed under age 50
- Family history of multiple cancers (Any combination of 3 of the following) colorectal cancer, breast, ovarian, uterine, prostate, or pancreatic cancer
- Personal history of >10 colon polyps
Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers has one of the region’s largest genetic counseling programs. Learn more about our Genetic Counseling Programs here.
Your Family Has a History or Colon Cancer – Now What?
At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers our Colon Cancer Prevention and Risk Assessment Clinic is designed to help patients accurately evaluate their colon cancer risk based on their personal history, family history and genetic testing.
Our unique program includes a collaborative approach to surveillance and risk reduction involving both a board certified medical oncologist and a certified genetic counselor.
The program includes:
- Review of screening colonoscopies
- Review of personal and family history
- Genetic counseling and testing for hereditary cancer conditions such as Lynch Syndrome
- Sample is collected at the end of the genetic counseling appointment (ex. blood draw).
- Results are completed in approximately 1 month.
- Results are disclosed at a follow-up appointment.
- Patients receive a personalized medical management plan based on their risk assessment.
Clinical Research Trials
At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers our oncologists are well versed in the latest advancements in colon cancer research, genetics, risk assessments, and new targeted and immune therapies. Clinical research trials represent some of the most advanced treatment options. Click here to learn more.