In Honor of March's Colorectal Cancer Month Observance, Mercy Health Provides Colorectal Cancer Information and Recommendations to Help You Be Well

(CINCINNATI; March 18, 2014) – March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and Mercy Health, which provides advanced, compassionate, quality care in your neighborhood through its care network, offers the following overview of colorectal cancer, including warning signs and doctor recommendations, to help you be well.

“Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women,” says Mercy Health Physician and general surgery specialist Christopher Juergens, MD. “A recent report notes that screenings have helped lower the rate of colon cancer by 30% in the last decade but the American Cancer Society (ACS) predicts that doctors will diagnose about 140,000 people in the U.S. with colon or rectal cancer this year and about 50,000 of those people will lose their lives to the disease. Awareness of this illness and following your doctor’s screening recommendations can help us change these grim statistics.”

Colorectal cancer starts in either the colon or the rectum. Typically, it appears first as a polyp or small growth in the inner lining of the colon or rectum before expanding outward toward the center. Most polyps are not cancer although some, known as adenomas, can become cancers. According to the ACS, adenocarcinomas account for 95% of colorectal cancers. Removing polyps early can stop them from becoming cancerous.

“Knowing the risk factors, symptoms and signs of colorectal cancer and having recommended screenings are key to early detection of colorectal cancer,” says Mercy Health Physician and surgical oncologist Shyam Allamaneni, MD. “With screenings, we find and remove polyps before they become cancer or we find cancers in their earliest, most treatable state.”

According to the ACS, risk factors for colorectal cancer include:
• Age - your risk gets higher as you get older
• Having had colorectal cancer or certain kinds of polyps before
• Having a history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
• Family history of colorectal cancer
• Race or ethnic background, such as being African American or Ashkenazi
• Type 2 diabetes
• Certain family syndromes, like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC, also called Lynch syndrome)
• Diets heavy in red meats like beef, lamb or liver and processed meats like hot dogs, bologna and lunch meat) can increase your colorectal cancer risk
• Cooking meats at very high heat by frying, broiling or grilling can create chemicals that might increase cancer risk
• Lack of exercise
• Being very overweight or obese
• Smoking
• Heavy alcohol use

Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer can include the following, which typically occur with more advanced colorectal cancers:
• A change in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation or narrow stool that lasts for more than a few days
• A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that doesn't go away after doing so
• Rectal bleeding, dark stools or blood in the stool
• Cramping or stomach pain
• Weakness and tiredness
• Weight loss that you did not expect

“If you have any of the risk factors for or signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer, consider scheduling your screening today. The whole process, including prep time, takes about 24 hours and it can save your life,” says Dr. Juergens. “If you have no risk factors apart from age, regular colorectal cancer screening starting at age 50 is one of the best ways to help prevent colorectal cancer. You can also watch your diet and exercise to lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer. If you have a family history or other risk factors for colorectal polyps or cancer, talk with your doctor about screening at a younger age or getting screened more often.”

"Today, thanks to a multidisciplinary approach that includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, we are able to manage colorectal cancer almost like a chronic illness. Treatment advances mean that patients, including many of my own, enjoy a good quality of life for years, despite a diagnosis of advanced colorectal cancer,” notes Dr. Allamaneni, who is an expert in treating advanced colorectal cancer.

To hear more about what Dr. Juergens has to say about colorectal cancer, tune in to the Mercy Health Minute daily at 7:45 a.m. on 700WLW the week of March 24.

Dr. Juergens practices from Mercy Health - General and Laparoscopic Surgery, Fairfield, located at 2960 Mack Road, Suite 205, ZIP 45014-5300.

Dr. Allamaneni practices from Mercy Health - Surgical Oncology and General Surgery in Kenwood, located at 4750 East Galbraith Road, Suite 206, ZIP 45236-6706.

To schedule an appointment with either physician, call 513-981-2222.

To find a Mercy Health physician in your neighborhood, or to learn about the services provided at Mercy Health, please visit http://www.e-mercy.com/physicians.asp or call 513-981-2222.