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Check-up Time

02/28/2009 04:00PM ● Published by Super Admin

Culturally we are acutely aware of certain types of cancer, yet we remain blissfully unaware of one of the most deadly forms: colorectal cancer. Cancer of the colon, rectum or appendix, though not discussed much, is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, right behind lung cancer.

Most colorectal cancer begins as polyps, or pre-cancerous growths, which are largely benign on their own, but can become cancerous if left untreated. If polyps are detected and removed early, colorectal cancer can be prevented.

A Preventable Disease
According to Maria Robinson of the Great Valley Region office of the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer education is one of their primary focuses. “It is so preventable if people would just get their check-ups. Depending on the specific demographic to which an individual belongs, we recommend that regular examinations start about age 50.” Follow your doctor’s advice regarding colonic examinations.

According to ACS literature, the chances of successful treatment are the greatest when colorectal cancer is detected early, using a combination of these procedures beginning at age 50:
  • Fecal occult blood test
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Double contrast barium enema
 
Experts Weigh In
We visited with three health professionals to gain some perspective on colorectal cancer and how to avoid it.

Sheila Leard, a registered dietician and certified personal trainer, is aware of the concerns of patients facing colorectal cancer.
Leard advises that good nutrition is important for preventing, dealing with, and surviving cancer. The cause of most cancers is still unclear, but a healthy lifestyle can improve your odds and help maintain your health during treatment. In particular, certain foods can assist in protecting you from colon cancer.

Leard suggests adding these foods to your meal plan for better health:
  • Whole-grain breads, pasta, cereal and brown rice
  • Dried beans
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially apples
  • High-fiber foods
  • Various types of berries, including cherries, raspberries and strawberries

Dr. Alan G. McNabb of Roseville Surgical Alliance sees patients with colorectal cancer after they have been diagnosed and polyps need to be removed. He removes sections of the intestine as needed, to eliminate the cancerous cells, and rebuilds sections that need it.

“I am not saying that there is no reason for concern...it is really easy to spot colorectal cancer early with regular examinations,” Dr. McNabb points out optimistically.

Candice Cantin of the Ever Green Herb Garden has a balanced holistic view of health in general, and this, of course, encompasses colorectal health. “We need to consider what we put into our systems,” Cantin says. “It should go without saying, but we need to remember, whatever we put in one end, has to come out the other. Think of your stomach as a big Crock Pot – you don’t want to fill it with a lot of stuff that doesn’t go together. You end up digesting some things, half digesting other things, and not digesting yet other items at all. Put in a mix of foods and fluids that work well together to keep your system in the best working order.”

Cantin further points out, “In Eastern health disciplines, the rule of thumb is that you want one-third of your stomach filled with solids, one-third with fluids and leave it one-third empty, so it can work!” We should not eat to maximum capacity – this prevents your digestive tract from doing its work.

Although colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of death among cancers, it does not have to be. With careful preventive care and proper nutrition, this is a highly preventable disease.

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