Reporting on What is going on in the World. I'm a Crohn's Advocate and currently a Volunteer for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation Of America San Diego and Desert Area Chapter.
Friday, March 18, 2016
Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Prevention Month
March is Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Prevention Month Now is a great time to review your risk for CRC with your healthcare provider. People with ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease involving the colon, are at an increased risk of developing CRC.
However, it is important to note that CRC is preventable and highly treatable in the early stages. Before CRC develops, precancerous tissue can be seen and removed, thereby reducing the risk of that tissue progressing to cancer. Thus, regular screenings and early detection are crucial.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) can occur anywhere in the l
arge intestine (colon and rectum), and is the second-leading cause of
cancer-related deaths in this country. While this
statistic is scary, it is important to know that CR
C is preventable and
highly treatable in the early stages. Before CRC develops, precancerous tissue can be seen and removed
reducing the risk of that tissue progressing to can
cer. Thus, regular screenings and early detection a
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) & CRC
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are chronic
diseases that inflame the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Chronic
inflammation of the colon can damage the lining of
the colon over time, leading to an increased risk o
f CRC. Therefore,
people with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease i
nvolving the colon are at an increased risk of developing CRC compared
to the general population. Even if your disease is
in remission now, you remain at risk if you had significant inflammation
in the past. However, despite this increased risk,
it is important for you to understand that the vast majority of people
with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis will never develop CRC.
Common Risk Factors
Two key risk factors associated with increased CRC
risk are disease duration and the extent of the colon involved. The
risk for CRC does not start increasing until 8 to 10 years after you develop ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease involving
the colon. People whose entire colon is involved h
ave the greatest risk, and those with inflammation
only in the rectum
have the least risk. Some patients with IBD also h
ave a chronic liver disease known as primary sclero
(PSC), which causes bile duct inflammation. If you
have PSC, you may have a higher risk of developing
CRC before the 8
to 10 year period.
Signs & Symptoms
CRC can have symptoms, but also can be completely without symptoms. Some of the symptoms below, such a
or rectal bleeding, can be early warning signs of C
RC in the general population. However, these sympt
oms are difficult
to assess in those with Crohn’s disease or ulcerati
ve colitis because they may represent a flare-up of
IBD. If you are
experiencing any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor:
Change in the frequency of bowel movements
Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
Bright red or very dark blood in the stool
Stools that are narrower than usual
General stomach discomfort such as frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness and/or cramps
Weight loss with no known reason
Although a colonoscopy is effective at diagnosing cancer of the colon, it is important to know that the purpose of
screening and surveillance is to detect precancerous tissue and remove it, thus preventing it from progressing to cancer.
CRC risk applies to patients with active or inactive IBD. CRC risk also depends on the length of time
a person has had IBD,
as well as the condition of the colon. That is why
it is important to see your doctor for a routine colonoscopy every 1 to
3 years once you have had ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease involving the colon for 8 to 10 years.
Decreasing Your Risk
If you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, see your gastroenterologist annually for a
general check-up, regardless of how healthy you feel.
Discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor.
Report any changes in symptoms.
Help keep your disease and inflammation under control by staying on your medications, even when you ar
You and your doctor should review the medications you are currently taking.
Update your doctor on family history for colorectal
Although there is no cure for IBD, early detection
is critical to reducing your risk for CRC.
Exercise and eat a healthy diet.
Log onto the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America’s website,
, for more information about
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
CHECKLIST: AM I AT RISK for CRC?
Just about everyone is at risk for CRC. However, t
here are several key factors that may put you at in
Risk Factors for Developing CRC (check all that app
Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease involving the colon
or ulcerative colitis.
Eight to 10 year history of Crohn’s disease or ulce
A personal or family history of colorectal polyps o
r colorectal cancer.
A personal history of bile duct inflammation (primary sclerosing cholangitis).
Genetic syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer
Appearance of polyps or bumps in the colon.
Appearance of dysplasia (changes in cells that are
precursors of cancer) of the colon or rectum.
If you’ve checked any of the boxes in the above che
cklist, take this fact sheet to your next doctor’s
with your doctor about your risk factors for developing colorectal cancer and what you can do to reduc
e your risk
To learn more, check out our Colorectal Cancer Fact Sheet, and contact the IBD Help Center at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on prevention.