Wellness Wednesday: Colorectal Cancer Screenings Save Lives

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. No one wants to talk about it; but colorectal cancer screening saves lives. If you’re 50 years old or older, talk to your doctor about getting screened.

AA couple bicyclesColorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, among cancers that affect both men and women, in the U.S. Every year, about 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 people die from it. But this disease is highly preventable, by getting screened beginning at age 50.


About 1 in 3 adults between 50 and 75 years old–about 23 million people–are not getting tested as recommended.


What You Can Do

  • If you’re aged 50 to 75, get screened for colorectal cancer. Screenings help prevent colorectal cancer by finding precancerous polyps so they can be removed. Screening also finds this cancer early, when treatment can be most effective.
  • Be physically active.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke.

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  • Risk increases with age. More than 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people aged 50 and older.
  • Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important. If you have symptoms, they may include—
    • Blood in or on the stool.
    • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away.
    • Losing weight and you don’t know why.
    • These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. If you have any of them, see your doctor.
  • Some people are at a higher risk than others for developing colorectal cancer. If you think you may be at high risk, talk to your doctor about when and how often to get tested.

Screenings Tests

There are several screening test options. Talk with your doctor about which is right for you.

  • Colonoscopy (every 10 years).
  • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT), stool test or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) (every year).
  • Sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years, with FOBT every three years).

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Mercy Health System has joined with more than 1,000 organizations who have pledged to work together to increase the nation’s colorectal cancer screening rates and embrace the goal of reaching 80% screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.

80% by 2018 was developed through the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCR) initiative with the goal of screening 80% of those aged 50 and older for colorectal cancer by the year 2018. The NCCR was co-founded by the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


If we can achieve 80% by 2018, 277,000 fewer people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 203,000 lives will be saved by 2030.


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Across the country, approximately 1 in 3 adults, around 23 million people aged 50 and 75 years old are not getting screened for colorectal cancer as recommended. Within the Mercy Health System service area alone, 33% of adults have not received colorectal screenings in the past 10 years.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


More Information

NCCR: 80% by 2018

Colorectal Cancer Screening Fact Sheet

Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Lives

Vital Signs: Colorectal Cancer Tests Save Lives

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Wellness Wednesday: Lung Cancer Awareness

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the second most common cancer among both men and women in the U.S. It also has one of the lowest five-year survival rates of all cancer types.

lung_cancer_awarenessOne reason why lung cancer is so deadly is that it is hard to find in its early stages. It may take years for the lung cancer to grow and there usually are no symptoms early on. By the time you start to notice symptoms, the cancer often has spread to other parts of the body.

When a person has lung cancer, they have abnormal cells that cluster together to form a tumor. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells grow out of control, destroying the healthy tissue. These types of tumors are called malignant tumors. When the cancer cells grow too fast, they prevent organs of the body from functioning properly.

There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. A third less common type of lung cancer is called carcinoid.

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)

Small cell lung cancer is almost always associated with cigarette smoking and is usually treated with chemotherapy.

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

Non-small cell lung cancer makes up about 80 percent of lung cancer cases. This type of cancer usually grows and spreads to other parts of the body more slowly than small cell lung cancer does. There are three different types NSCLC:

Adenocarcinoma: Often found in the outer area of the lung. It develops in the cells of epithelial tissues, which line the cavities and surfaces of the body and form glands.

Squamous cell carcinoma: Usually found in the center of the lung next to an air tube.

Large cell carcinoma: Can occur in any part of the lung and tends to grow and spread faster than the other cancers.

Carcinoid

Lung carcinoid tumors are uncommon and tend to grow slower than other types of lung cancers. Carcinoids are very rare, slow-growing and most commonly treated with surgery.

Lung Cancer Symptoms

Mature woman blowing the seeds from dandelion in natureMany people with lung cancer don’t have symptoms until the disease is in its later stages. Because there are very few nerve endings in the lungs, a tumor could grow without causing pain or discomfort. When symptoms are present, they are different in each person, but may include:

  • A cough that doesn’t go away and gets worse over time
  • A chronic cough or “smoker’s cough”
  • Hoarseness
  • Constant chest pain
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Frequent lung infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Coughing up blood

Some symptoms of lung cancer may not seem related to the lungs or breathing. These symptoms still be a sign of lung cancer because lung cancer usually does not cause symptoms in its earlier stages. This means some symptoms do not appear until the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Bone pain or fractures
  • Blood clots

See your doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms

What Causes Lung Cancer

Anyone can get lung cancer. Lung cancer occurs when cells in the lung mutate or change. Various factors can cause this mutation to happen. Most often, this change in lung cells happens when people breathe in dangerous, toxic substances. Even if you were exposed to these substances many years ago, you are still at risk for lung cancer.

Smoking

QuitSmoking3Smoking causes about 90 percent of lung cancer cases. Tobacco smoke contains many chemicals that are known to cause lung cancer. If you still smoke, quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your lung health.

Smokers are not the only ones affected by cigarette smoke. If you are a former smoker, your risk is decreased, but has not gone away completely—you can still get lung cancer. Nonsmokers also can be affected by smoking. Breathing in secondhand smoke puts you are risk for lung cancer or other illnesses.

Radon

Radon exposure is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that exists naturally in soil. It comes up through the soil and enters buildings through small gaps and cracks. One out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is subject to radon exposure. Exposure to radon combined with cigarette smoking seriously increases your lung cancer risk.

Hazardous Chemicals

Exposure to certain hazardous chemicals poses a lung cancer risk. Working with materials such as asbestos, uranium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel and some petroleum products is especially dangerous. If you think you may be breathing in hazardous chemicals at your job, talk to your employer and your doctor to find out to protect yourself.

Genes

Genetic factors also may play a role in one’s chances of developing lung cancer. A family history of lung cancer may mean you are at a higher risk of getting the disease. If others in your family have or ever had lung cancer, it’s important to mention this to your doctor.

How Lung Cancer Is Diagnosed

Diagnosing lung cancer is different for each person. Your medical team chooses tests based on a number of factors, including your medical history, symptoms and a physical exam. Options may include diagnostic imaging such as X-rays, MRI and CT Scans or tissue sample biopsy.

How Lung Cancer Is Treated

The treatment for lung cancer depends on your lung cancer type, lung cancer stage and lung cancer treatment goals. Options may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, clinical trials and/or palliative care.

Sources: American Cancer Society, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Lung Association and Mayo Clinic.


More Information:

American Lung Association Lung Cancer Fact Sheet

American Lung Association

 

Wellness Wednesday: Breast Cancer Facts and Figures

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Mercy Health System wants you to know the facts about breast cancer and understand that early detection is the key to survival.

Facts about Breast Cancer in the United States

  • BreastCancerOne in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die.
  • Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 410 will die each year.
  • Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. About 11 percent of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.

BreastCancer2A Global Burden

According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year and affecting countries at all levels of modernization.

Good News about Breast Cancer Trends

In recent years, perhaps coinciding with the decline in prescriptive hormone replacement therapy after menopause, we have seen a gradual reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among women aged 50 and older. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part to better due to screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.

Factors That Decrease Breast Cancer Risk

  • Being older when you first had your menstrual period.
  • Starting menopause at an earlier age.
  • Giving birth to more children, being younger at the birth of your first child, and breastfeeding your children.
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.

Factors That Increase Breast Cancer Risk

  • Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy.
  • Personal history of breast cancer or non-cancerous breast diseases.
  • Family history of breast cancer (on either your mother’s or father’s side of the family).
  • Treatment with radiation therapy to the breast/chest.
  • Dense breasts by mammogram.
  • Drinking alcohol.
  • Night-shift work.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


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