Colon & Rectal Cancer: Myths & Truths

March And Myths.  Colon And Rectal Cancer.

March is Colon and rectal cancer awareness month.  Colon and rectal surgeons, also known as proctologists,  traditionally see an increase in the number of patients wanting evaluations every March.  This is great!   Colon and rectal cancer publicity has helped.  Thank you (in part), Katie Couric.

But what about all of those who do not come to  the office for evaluation and screening?  Where are they?  Are they afraid?  Too busy?  Unaware?  Perhaps they are laboring under one of the colon and rectal cancer myths.

Why Myths?

In large cities such as Los Angeles, and small towns alike, fear can often get the upper hand.  Fear or ignorance can trump even the best of intentions or New Year’s resolutions.  However, if we shine a light on fear, shine the light of education, perhaps we can lower the colorectal cancer rate even further.  Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in adults, affecting 150,000 new patients each year.  It is the second most deadly one, killing 50,000 people per year.  These facts alone might seem so overwhelming as to lead to inaction.  Paralyzed by fear.

Here are myths and facts:

Myth:  I have no family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.

Fact:    95% of colorectal cancers occur in patients without any family history.

Myth:  Colorectal cancer is incurable, so why bother to get checked?

Fact:   Colorectal cancer is curable. If found very early, there is an almost 90% cure rate.

Myth:  You cannot prevent colorectal cancer, so why try?

Fact:    More than 95% of colorectal cancers begin as a polyp (an overgrowth of the normal colon or rectal lining).  Remove the polyp early, and you will abort the development of cancer.  It is as simple as that.

Myth:  I do not have any symtoms, so I am OK.

Fact:   Colorectal cancer may be silent.  No symptoms.

Myth:  Colonoscopy is uncomfortable, dangerous, difficult to prepare for, and is the  only way to screen my colon.

Facts:   With modern anesthesia techniques, colonoscopy is painless.   It is safe.  Perforations are rare. The preparation causes diarrhea for a short time.  If you do not want to have a colonoscopy, you can have a barium enema x-ray or a CT scan x-ray colonoscopy.  You will be awake for both.

Myth:  If I have colorectal cancer, an operation will not help me.

Fact:   An operation is the only way to help you right now, for the most part.  Laparoscopic or robotic, minimally invasive surgery will remove the tumor safely and return you to your normal activities.

Myth:  If I have a curative operation, I will need a colostomy (bag).

Fact:    Wrong.  Very rarely will patients need a colostomy.  In fact, a colostomy is most often needed in those who neglected screening and presented at a very late stage of the disease.

FACT:  With education and trust in your surgeon, with your head out of the sand and your eyes looking straight ahead, you can prevent colorectal cancer.

Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates

Education and knowledge are life saving.  The surgeons of  Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates are all board certified and experienced in the treatments of colon and rectal cancer, as well as all diseases of the colon, rectum and anus.  The first step down the path of health is to call to schedule your consultation.  (310)273-2310.  Take the first step.