March is colorectal cancer awareness month and Douglas Rosen, a colorectal surgeon with Novant Health, has some advice for dealing with the disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country.
As with many cancers, screenings are helpful when it comes to determining a diagnosis and treatment options.
“Colorectal cancer typically begins as a benign polyp on the lining of the colon. It typically does not cause any symptoms but over time, it grows bigger and bigger and transforms into malignancy” Rosen said.
After this, noticeable symptoms tend to emerge, which can include altered bowel habits, blood in stool and others. Colorectal Cancer screenings are recommended to start when people reach their 50s though if a person has a family history of the disease, it is recommended to start earlier. Lately the numbers seem to be improving with less people in the average age range for the disease being diagnosed with it.
“We think that’s due to better education and screening of the population at large,” Rosen said.
A concern though is that there seems to be an increasing number of younger people (people under the age of 40) getting the disease. This is also true for cases of rectal cancer. In fact he has seen many patients lately under age 40 with advanced rectal cancer at his office, Rosen said.
Though screenings are important, Rosen encourages people to not ignore potential symptoms of colorectal and rectal cancer. This can include abdominal discomfort, bowel changes, blood in stool and more. He and others with Novant Health’s Charlotte Colon & Rectal Surgery can assist those concerned with colorectal or rectal cancer issues as well as answer questions.
He hopes that with more people talking about colorectal and rectal cancer and sharing their experiences, it will lead to more people being educated about both diseases.
For more information or to make an appointment with Novant Health’s Charlotte Colon & Rectal Surgery call 704-333-1259 or visit www.nhcharlottecolonandrectalsurgery.org.