Tag Archives: Early Detection

Two Critical Matters in Colorectal Cancer Early Detection

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Time for cancer screening_Clipart library & CPDAccording to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 135,430 cases of colorectal cancer (CRC) will be diagnosed and an estimated 50,260 CRC deaths will occur in 2017 in the United States.

Zeroing in on the numbers: within the predicted colorectal cancer incidence, 71,420 will be men and 64,010 will be women, and deaths will be 27,150 among men and 23,110 among women. Consequently in cancer deaths, CRC is the second leading cause in men and the third leading cause in women among Americans. Worldwide, CRC is the third most common cancer.

These numbers make clear that CRC affects both men and women, in contrast to a myth that CRC is primarily a man’s cancer.

The good news is that most colon cancers are preventable! YES!

Yet, why are the statistics so large? Here are two areas many people often ignore or miss:

  •  Lack of adherence to the screening recommendation
  •  Delay in presenting symptoms to a physician/oncologist

Let me weigh in a bit more on each of these issues.

Adherence to screening and the value of colonoscopy

Let’s start with ACS screening guidelines: “Starting at age 50, men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should use one of the screening tests…” This is because about more than 90% of this disease is diagnosed after age 50. For individuals who have a 1st degree family member or relative with colon cancer, exams should start at an earlier age (e.g. ages 40).

One recommended screening test is colonoscopy, because it can not only detect cancers at their earliest, most treatable stages; it can also detect pre-cancerous polyps that can be removed during the exam before they become cancerous.

In reality, 50-60 percent of Americans who are recommended to get screened comply with the guidance. The lower screening rate might partially explain why only about 40 percent of colon cancers are diagnosed at an early stage (i.e. localized in colon or rectum).

Why should you go for a colonoscopy screening?

  1. You gain significant value. Your anxiety, fear, or even feelings of embarrassment may be understandable. However, consider this: Individuals undergo this exam of high quality under a comfortable, sedated condition, during which the entire colon and rectum are visualized by a qualified gastroenterologist. Pre-cancerous polyps can be found and removed safely. Can you see that this is a very valuable package of diagnosis and therapeutics for your colon health care? 
  2. You acquire rigorous clarity concerning your colon health. We want rigorous clarity in science, and surely, everyone wants thorough clarity when purchasing a house or insurance policy. It makes sense to seek rigorous clarity about a matter so critical to your health. If the result is normal, the colonoscopy should be repeated every 10 years up to the age of 75. If the test detects pre-cancerous polyps, the physician will recommend repeating the exam more frequently.
  3. You benefit from one of the most effective cancer prevention methods, and it is often covered by insurance.

Help your physician to help you by presenting any indications

In some cases, especially at an early stage, colon cancer may present no symptoms. Again, that’s why screening is vital to identify cancer early when prognosis and cure are optimistic.

Nevertheless, other folks may experience symptoms such as:

-          Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding

-          Abdominal pain or discomfort

-          Feeling the bowel incompletely empty, or bloating

-          Sudden changes in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, or oddly narrow stools)

-          Unexplained fatigue or weakness

-          Unexplained weight loss

Remember, nobody can read what’s on your mind or what’s going on in your life. If you don’t visit or communicate with your doctor, it’s likely he or she won’t know about your cramps or unexplained changes in your bowel movements.

So, devoting yourself to meeting screening guidelines is a key preventive measure, but another critical area is to counsel with your physician about possible warning signs.

In addition, an important step to preventing colorectal cancer is to know its risk factors. These factors can be categorized as:

-          Uncontrolled: age, colon polyps, family or personal history of cancer, esp. CRC

-          Pathological: obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases

-          Controllable or Preventable: sedentary lifestyle, tobacco smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, diet with low-fiber but high-fat (esp. animal fats)

To conclude, for colorectal cancer early detection, as for all cancer risks:

#1 Cancer screening is your first crucial preventive step.

#2 Recognizing risk factors and warning signs is your second vital protective weapon.

Image credit: Clipart library & CPD

Old Men’s and Young Men’s Cancer – How to Protect Yourself?

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Men-s Cancer in Puzzle_CPDMen may experience something wrong or annoying physically but hate to bring it up in conversation. This is understandable, but could potentially be gravely risky in regard to cancer. Stick with me for a few seconds, and I’ll explain why, along with a list of lifestyle-modifying and life-saving strategies to protect you from cancers that strike old men and young men.

First, let me briefly outline the difference between “young men’s cancer” and “old men’s cancer.”

 

Testicular cancer

Prostate cancer

Age 15 – 35 50+
Location Outside body, inside the scrotum Inside body, under the bladder
Risk factors Race/ethnicity, HIV infection, uncorrected or undescended testicles, injury to scrotum, family history Family history, genetics, race/ethnicity, hormones, smoking, obesity, inflammation, occupation
Signs or Symptoms
  • A lump in either testicle
  • An enlarged testicle or swollen scrotum
  • Discomfort or heaviness in the scrotum
  • Pain in the abdomen, groin area, or lower back
No sign at early stage

  • Change in urinating frequency, urgency, or flow; blood in the urine
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Pain in the hips or lower back
Prognosis Malignant, rare, but can be cured if detected early Common, can very often be treated successfully

So, how can men be vigilant about their cancer risks? If you are a man, here are 20 things you can do:

  1. Get screened for prostate cancer. Men over 50 should consult their doctors for screening, especially those having a family history of the disease. The screenings may include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA).
  2. Detect testicular cancer. Perform testicle self-examination monthly and have a doctor examine annually. See instructions for testicular self-examination at http://www.webmd.boots.com/men/guide/tescticular-self-examination
  3. Take a blood test for HIV antibodies. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes AIDS, and HIV-infected individuals can remain symptomless for years. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, consult your physician. The good news is, new drugs are available to treat HIV infection effectively.
  4. Move your body. Physical activity is a key to preventing prostate cancer. Some research evidence indicates that men who are more physically active have a lower risk of getting prostate cancer. Do whatever works for you—whether that’s exercising regularly or getting physically active in various ways throughout the day. And keep it fun by alternating your routine, workout format, or partners.  More activity is more protective.
  5. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight and obesity are among modifiable risk factors for cancer. Obesity is strongly linked to diabetes; one in three Americans has diabetes and these folks often don’t even know they have it. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a wide spectrum of health problems from heart disease and stroke to kidney, eye, and nerve damage.
  6. Have RED in your diet. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Especially, cooked and processed tomatoes contain high levels of lycopene.
  7. Eat more GREEN. Broccoli is high in cancer-fighting agents (i.e., sulforaphane and isothiocyanates). Regularly eating broccoli may lower your risk of prostate cancer. Other greens such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, and mustard greens are vegetables rich in indoles, sulfoxide, and 5-methyl-methionine, all of which have potent anticancer effects.
  8. Consume more fish. Omega-3, found in certain fish including salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and trout, can help reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer.
  9. Consider biological selenium (not synthetic or supplement). Selenium, a naturally occurring chemical, may help you fight prostate cancer, though the evidence is non-conclusive. However, you’ll never go wrong with plant-based foods (vegetables, grains, etc.), fish, nuts, wheat germ, and Brewer’s yeast, which all contain selenium.
  10. Reduce meat consumption. Red meats and processed meats have been linked to a greater risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer.
  11. Avoid deep-fried foods. High-heat cooking (e.g., deep-frying or grilling) generates potential carcinogens. In particular, it produces heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in animal meats, and so does overcooking meat. One study revealed that frequent consumption (once a week or more) of certain fried foods including French fries, fried chicken, fried fish, and doughnuts was associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer.
  12. Be wary about supplements. There is no clear evidence that any vitamin or herb supplements prevent testicular or prostate cancer. Plus what’s in a supplement is not all regulated.
  13. Drink more water or tea. Water helps get rid of toxins, bacteria and waste in the body. Green and black tea contain potent antioxidants and anticancer agents such as polyphenols.
  14. Drink coffee daily. Coffee provides a beneficial effect for fight cancer, according to Harvard researchers. They found that men who drank six or more cups of regular or decaf coffee were 59% less likely to develop advance prostate cancer than those who eschewed the brew.
  15. Listen to your body. If you experience pain in your groin area or lower back, a change in urination (frequency, urgency, or pressure), or difficulty urinating, or if you see blood in your urine or semen, talk to your doctor. Never ignore those warning signs.
  16. Quit smoking. Smoking is one of the primary risk factors for lung cancer, and is attributed to several other cancers including prostate cancer.
  17. Keep your cell phones away from your pants if possible. Cell phones emit radio frequency radiation, and radiation is a carcinogen.
  18. Enjoy fun for life. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to come with boredom. You can exercise, have sex, and watch TV too as long as it’s not too much. Also, instead of chips and popcorn with your TV watching, eat a big plate of fresh veggies and fruits.
  19. Prevent inflammation and viral or bacterial infections. Inflammation has been linked to many human cancers.
  20. Treat an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). There are effective drugs available, so consult a doctor.

Finally, ladies, let’s encourage the men in our lives to take actions for a healthy lifestyle and cancer protection.

 

Image credit: by Ambrozjo and CancerPreventionDaily.com/