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Colorectal Cancer is Preventable, Treatable and Beatable

  • Category: Cancer
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Colorectal Cancer is Preventable, Treatable and Beatable

Colon and rectal (colorectal) cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed annually in both men and women in the U.S. The good news is rates of colorectal cancer diagnoses have been dropping in people over 55 because more of them are getting screened and changing their lifestyle-related risk factors. There have also been advancements in colorectal cancer treatments that further improve survival rates.

On the flip side, there has been a steady increase of colorectal cancer in younger adults, perhaps due to less physical activity and changing dietary habits. While colorectal cancer and colonoscopies may not be a favorite topic of discussion, knowing the risk factors and when to get screened can save lives.

On Tuesday, March 5, at 2 p.m. Washington Township Medical Foundation (WTMF) gastroenterologist Arun Srivatsa, MD, will present a 30-minute live online seminar titled, “United Against Colorectal Cancer.” During the presentation, Dr. Srivatsa will discuss colorectal cancer statistics, risk factors, signs and symptoms, screening options, and advancements in the various treatments. To watch this presentation on Facebook, sign in to your account, then go to Or you can watch it without an account at If you cannot watch it live, the seminar will be available beginning the following day on YouTube.

Colorectal cancer begins when small clumps of cells, called polyps, form inside the large intestine. Not all polyps turn into cancer and it may take many years for one to become cancerous, but screening for and removing polyps is an effective way to prevent colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends men and women without a family history of colorectal cancer begin getting screened at age 45. People with a genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer and other risk factors are advised to get screened earlier and more frequently.

“I highly recommend adults check with their primary care physician and follow recommended guidelines for colorectal cancer screenings,” said Dr. Srivatsa. “Whether you’re a young adult in a higher risk category, or a healthy, active person in their 70s, it is better to be screened for precancerous polyps and have them removed now than wait several years and have to undergo surgery or chemotherapy for colorectal cancer. One thing we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that delaying regular health care visits and screenings can be dangerous.”

Colonoscopy is the gold standard for detecting and removing polyps. This painless 20-to-30-minute procedure is performed by a gastroenterologist while the patient is under sedation after undergoing a colon preparation process through fasting and taking laxatives. (Read more about getting a colonoscopy in a follow-up article in this space next week.) Another less invasive screening option is stool-based tests, where samples of feces are tested in a laboratory for signs of cancer. These tests are much easier to do, but they must be done more often and a positive test needs to be followed up by a colonoscopy to remove the polyps.

In addition to routine screening, Dr. Srivatsa advises reducing your risk of colorectal cancer by exercising; maintaining a healthy weight; limiting alcohol consumption; avoiding tobacco; and eating a diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. While it’s unknown exactly why colorectal cancer is on the rise in younger adults, it is generally attributed to increasing rates of obesity from a more sedentary lifestyle and easier access to processed foods than previous generations.

“As research and technology progresses, treatments for colorectal and all types of cancer are becoming easier to tolerate and side effects are minimized,” noted Dr. Srivatsa. “Think of cancer as a bump in the road that you can get over. Get your screenings, and if you do get diagnosed with cancer, move forward with treatment so you can go on to live a long life.”

For more information on Dr. Srivatsa or WTMF gastroenterology services, visit