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Providers Weigh In: Prevent Colon Cancer

Monday, March 2, 2015

As the third most common form of cancer in men and women and the second leading cancer killer in the United States, Dr. Kameron Matthews emphasizes the importance of colon cancer screenings.

 Dr. Kameron Matthews chief medical officer Mile Square Health Center
Dr. Kameron Matthews
Chief medical officer, UI Health Mile Square Health Centere

Colorectal cancer screenings and knowledge of this disease are not only essential for detecting the cancer, but preventing abnormalities from turning into the cancerous cells.  Colorectal cancer is malignant cells found in the colon or rectum. The colon and the rectum are parts of the large intestine, which is part of the digestive system. 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.

The exact cause of most colorectal cancer is unknown, but the following factors can increase your risk:

  • Age
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Personal history of colorectal polyps
  • Personal history of colorectal cancer
  • Family history
  • Ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease
  • Inherited syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer, also known as Lynch syndrome 
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Smoking

By understanding the causes, risks, and importance of screenings, the ability to detect precancerous polyps decreases the risk of these abnormal growths in the colon or rectum turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment often leads to a cure.  "Our patients have felt a sense of relief and better understanding of their health after they receive their screenings. Our goal at UI Health is not only to provide services that help them navigate the healthcare system more easily but also to assure that each patient is educated on the importance of prevention and how they can actively manage their own wellbeing," says Dr. Kameron Matthews, chief medical officer, UI Health Mile Square Health Center.

Preventative behaviors such as diet and life style can help prevent colon cancer as well.  Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, limiting alcohol intake (maximum is 1 drink/day for woman and 2/day for men), not smoking, and by exercising 30 minutes daily, you can reduce your risk of colon cancer. 

The Colorectal Cancer Treatment Program at UI Health treats benign and malignant conditions, performs routine screening examinations and surgically treats problems involving of the colon, rectum, anus and small bowel when necessary.   We offer state of the art, efficient, and comprehensive clinical services for patients with colon and rectal cancer. Patients diagnosed with early to advanced colorectal cancer can rest assured they are receiving the best and most integrated care available.