Before the month of March slips away, we want to remind you that it is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  This type of cancer is the third most common cancer, with more than 655,000 deaths worldwide each year.  If it is discovered in its early stages, it can often be cured.  It is recommended that persons after the age of 50 have regular screening tests.  A new study from Columbia University suggests that having a colonoscopy a decade earlier than the usual average age of 50 may be worthwhile.

Here is some useful information that might help decrease the risk of colon cancer:

  • Regular exercise may cut the risk of colon cancer by as much as 40%.
  • If you smoke, quit.  The risk of developing colon cancer is increased by 82% in smokers.
  • Take Vitamin D.  High levels of Vitamin D can decrease the chance of developing colon polyps by 30%.  Colon polyps may be precursors to cancer.

A less invasive test that has been developed and tested by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) is the National CT Colonography.  It is also known as a virtual colonoscopy.  Comparable to the standard colonoscopy, which uses a long, flexible tube with a camera to view the lining of the colon, this CT colonography employs virtual reality technology to produce a three-dimensional visualization that permits a thorough and minimally invasive evaluation of the entire colon.  The ACRIN trial, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, and part of the National Institutes of Health, enrolled more than 2,600 patients at 15 sites nationwide.  It is the largest multi-center institute to compare the accuracy of the state-of-the-art CT to conventional colonoscopies.  The accuracy results are published in the September 18, 2008, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.  It is hoped that more people will take advantage of this new type of screening.

We hope that employers will encourage their workers (age appropriate) to get all types of preventative screenings, such as this one.

Source:  National Cancer Institute