BOSTON, MA (Ivanhoe Newswire) — February is National Cancer Prevention month. Experts say it’s essentially important that all adults, including young adults, learn the signs and symptoms of cancer so they know what is normal and when they should see their doctor. For example, did you know that colorectal cancer is on the rise in young people, and is on track to become the leading cause of cancer deaths in adults under fifty?
When the Black Panther sequel hit movie theaters late last year, it was without its star Chadwick Boseman. Boseman died of colon cancer at age 43 … focusing attention on what experts call a continuing, and alarming health trend.
Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH Oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, says “We have been seeing a steady uptick in the rates of this colon cancer in young people.”
Doctor Ng says the rate of this cancer for men and women under 50 has been increasing two percent per year since the mid-1990s.
“If this trend continues, modeling studies estimate that colorectal cancer will become the leading cause of cancer death in young people under the age of 50 by the year 2030.”
Doctor Ng says prevention is key for all adults … no smoking, limit alcohol, limit red meat, maintain a healthy body weight, and exercise.
It’s also important to know the signs of colorectal cancer: blood in the stool, a change in bathroom habits, unexpected weight loss, fatigue or shortness of breath and abdominal pain. These are non-specific, and may be easy to miss or ignore, but …
Doctor Ng says, “If there really is a persistent symptom that is not resolving, further attention should be paid to it.”
Doctor Ng says the recommended age for a baseline colonoscopy has been lowered from 50 to 45. She also says, for some, other screening methods might also be a good option …those include home stool-based tests that check for DNA changes. There’s also a test that only examines the left side of the colon, and virtual colonoscopy which uses a cat scan to image the colon. Dr. Ng says it’s important to know that if any of those tests come back abnormal, patients would need to have a follow up colonoscopy anyway.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson Videographer and Editor.
COLORECTAL CANCER: ALARMING RATES IN YOUNG PEOPLE
BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the rectum. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they have many features in common. Most colorectal cancers start as a growth on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. These growths are called polyps. Some types of polyps can change into cancer over time, but not all polyps become cancer. The chance of a polyp turning into cancer depends on the type of polyp it is. Most colorectal cancers are considered adenocarcinoma, or a malignant tumor formed from glandular structures in epithelial tissue. These cancers start in cells that make mucus to lubricate the inside of the colon and rectum. The stage of a colorectal cancer depends on how deeply it grows into the wall and if it has spread outside the colon or rectum.
COLON CANCER AND AGE: Doctors with Yale Medicine Colon & Rectal Surgery report seeing young patients with a diagnosis of colorectal cancer more often. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the U.S. Multisociety Task Force on Colorectal Cancer, groups that provide preventive guidelines, have recommended that most Americans be screened for colorectal cancer at age 45, which is five years earlier than previously recommended. “If anyone has any change in their bowel habits, if they have any bleeding, even if they think it’s a hemorrhoid, and it doesn’t go away, just get a colonoscopy,” says Vikram Reddy, MD, PHD, colorectal surgeon. To help prevent the risk of colorectal cancer, some lifestyle changes can be made such as quitting smoking, which includes e-cigarettes. Another change is to drink responsibly. The American Cancer Society advises no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women. Most importantly, exercise and lose weight if you are overweight or obese. There is a higher risk of both developing colorectal cancer and dying from it if you are obese. Lastly, consume adequate fiber. You should take in 25 grams of fiber a day to maintain a healthy colon. The typical American diet is 10 to 15 grams of fiber a day.
POTENTIAL THERAPY SHOWS PROMISE: According to a new study by Weill Cornell Medicine investigators, an experimental therapy showed promise as treatment for an aggressively spreading type of colorectal cancer in preclinical models. A team led by Dr. Maria Diaz-Meco and Dr. Jorge Moscat, who are both Homer T. Hirst III Professors of Oncology in Pathology at Weill Cornell Medicine, showed that the accumulation of a molecule called hyaluronan is a critical step in forming mCRC tumors, which account for about one-third of all colorectal cancers. They also demonstrated that an experimental therapy targeting hyaluronan shrinks mCRC-like tumors in mice. “We have unraveled one of the critical mechanisms driving this aggressive type of colorectal cancer, and we are proposing a potential therapy for patients who currently have few options,” said Dr. Moscat. Treating the mice with mCRC-like tumors with an experimental therapy called hyaluronidase, shrank the tumors, and allowed the immune cells to attack the tumor cells. The team hopes to learn how the guardian enzymes are lost prior to the onset of cancer and if they can find treatments that block the production of hyaluronan to prevent cancer or its spread.
* For More Information, Contact: Erica Hinsley
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