As the baby boomer generation has changed the face of elderly to the new middle aged adult, there are certain health factors that must be addressed in order to maintain that momentum. One of these health risks that are of great concern to those who are over the age of 50 is colorectal (colon and/or rectal) cancers.
Causes and Risk Factors
Although there are no definitive causes for colorectal cancer, the National Cancer Institute (n.d.) states that genetics and certain chemicals that form in meat when cooked at high temperatures may play a role in the development of this form of cancer. The American Cancer Society (2014) states that heavy alcohol consumption or poor diets can also lead to developing this type of cancer. However, the most noted risk factor that was reported by the National Cancer Institute (n.d.), the American Cancer Society (2014), and the Colon Cancer Alliance (2014), is being over the age of 50 with 72 being the average age of diagnosis.
Prevention and Detection
The American Cancer Society (2014) suggests eating a proper diet, avoiding alcohol and tobacco products, and increasing physical activities as methods to prevent colorectal cancer. Regular screenings are key to early detection and prompt treatment. The tests allow the doctors to look for polyps which can for in the colon or rectal area. These abnormal areas would then be sent for biopsy to test if colorectal cancer is present.
Colorectal Cancer and the Body
According to the American Cancer Society (2014), as the cancer forms in a polyp, it then spreads into the wall of the colon. The cancer then grows into lymph vessels which carry away waste and deposit it into nearby lymph nodes. This allows the cancer to be spread to other parts of the body. The Colon Cancer Alliance (2014) states that the most likely organs for this type of cancer to spread to are the lungs and the liver. This is known as metastasis, or the spreading of the cancer to distant parts of the body.
According to the Colon Cancer Alliance (2014), the treatment options that are available for colorectal cancer depends on several factors. The key factors are the placement of the tumor(s), and the stage of the cancer. The options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. It is frequently the decision of the attending physician to use a combination of treatment options in order to have the best odds of defeating the cancer.
- American Cancer Society. (2014). Colorectal Cancer. [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/colonandrectumcancer/detailedguide/colorectal-cancer-what-is-colorectal-cancer.
- National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Colon and Rectal Cancer. [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/colon-and-rectal.
- Colon Cancer Alliance. (2014). Colorectal Cancer. [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.ccalliance.org/colorectal_cancer/overview.html.