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March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

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[March 02, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- March is recognized as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and the colon and rectal surgery and gastroenterology departments at Springfield Clinic are reminding patients about the importance of life-saving screening.

Colorectal cancer occurs when malignant cells are found in the colon or rectum. Because colon cancer and rectal cancers have many features in common, they are sometimes referred to together as colorectal cancer. Cancerous tumors found in the colon or rectum also may spread to other parts of the body. 

Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women. The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 in 20. The American Cancer Society estimates that, in 2012, 103,170 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed, and 40,290 cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed. Colorectal cancer is expected to cause approximately 51,690 deaths this year.

Early diagnosis dramatically increases the chance of survival. In fact, the number of  deaths due to colorectal cancer has decreased, which is attributed to the increased use of screening colonoscopy and polyp removal.

Risk factors for colorectal cancer may include:

Age -- Most people who have colorectal cancer are over age 50; however, it can occur at any age.


Race -- African-Americans have the highest risk for colorectal cancer.

Diet -- Colorectal cancer is often associated with a diet high in red and processed meats.

Polyps -- Benign growths on the wall of the colon or rectum are common in people over age 50, and are believed to lead to colorectal cancer.

Personal history -- People who have had colorectal cancer or a history of adenomatous polyps have an increased risk for colorectal cancer.

Family history -- People with a strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps in a first-degree relative (especially in a parent or sibling before the age of 60 or in two first-degree relatives of any age), have an increased risk for colorectal cancer.

Ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease -- People who have an inflamed lining of the colon have an increased risk for colorectal cancer.

Inherited syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis, known as FAP, or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer, known as HNPCC.


  • Obesity

  • Physical inactivity

  • Heavy alcohol consumption

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Smoking

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Though the exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown, there are behavioral changes that can have some effect.

"We cannot control our genetics," said James Thiele, M.D., specialist in colon and rectal surgery at Springfield Clinic. "But we can control our lifestyle. An increase in exercise, as well as a diet high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, can have a positive impact."

The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly one-third of  all cancer deaths can be attributed to weight, diet and lack of physical activity.

While lifestyle modifications can be helpful, early detection is the best method for survival and treatment.

"Screening tests, such as colonoscopies, can catch the disease early, allowing us to treat colorectal cancers before they become deadly, or before they become cancer at all," says Robert Mosley, M.D., specialist in gastroenterology at Springfield Clinic. "They truly are life-savers."

A colonoscopy procedure with a Springfield Clinic colon and rectal surgeon or gastroenterologist can typically be scheduled within two weeks of the initial consultation appointment.

Patients with acute symptoms, like blood in the stool, will be worked into the schedule on an as-needed basis. Most screening colonoscopies are completed at Springfield Clinic's Ambulatory Surgery & Endoscopy Center, located at the clinic's Main Campus East Building, 1025 S. Sixth St. in Springfield.

To schedule your colonoscopy or other colorectal cancer screening tests, call Springfield
Clinic at 217-528-7541 or visit www.springfieldclinic.com.

[Text from file received from Patty Kuhn, director of marketing, Springfield Clinic]

About Springfield Clinic
Springfield Clinic is a progressive, physician-led multi-specialty medical group, devoted to providing the highest quality health care to its patients. With more than 350 physicians and midlevel providers, practicing in nearly 80 medical specialties and sub-specialties, Springfield Clinic serves a population of nearly 1 million patients throughout the central Illinois region. As one of the largest private, multi-specialty medical clinics in Illinois, Springfield Clinic currently employs over 2,000 clinical and administrative staff members, who are committed to leadership in quality, service and technology. For more information, go to www.springfieldclinic.com.

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