March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. To help raise awareness about this preventable disease, the iconic “LOVE” sculpture at Renown Regional will shine brightly in blue each evening in March, serving as a visual reminder to passersby to schedule their colorectal screening.
The Colorectal Cancer Alliance estimates 149,500 new cases of colon cancer will present in 2021 alone. While this may be the second deadliest cancer in men and women combined, it is also one of the most preventable cancers with screenings.
Colorectal Cancer Early Detection is Key
“Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a decline in colorectal screenings nationwide,” said Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH, President and CEO of Renown Health. “We know early detection is key in preventing the spread of any cancer, and with regular screenings, we know colorectal cancer is easily detectable and treatable. As a cancer survivor, I know how important it is to get back on track with regular screenings and preventive care. Making your health a priority now will help you experience a healthier and brighter tomorrow.”
You Can Help Spread Awareness
“We invite the community to join us at Renown in spreading awareness about colorectal cancer and its prevention,” said Susan Cox, director of cancer services at the Renown Institute for Cancer. “It takes all of us to put an end to this disease. If you’re up to date on your screenings, remind a loved one to schedule their next screening – as your reminder may have the power to save their life.”
Malignancies Without Symptoms
“Colorectal cancer usually forms from precancerous polyps, or abnormal growths, in the colon or rectum, which can become malignant without presenting any symptoms. Screening tests like stool tests, colonoscopies, and others can detect these precancerous polyps, so they can be removed by a physician before turning into cancer. Screening tests can also find colorectal cancer early, resulting in better treatment outcomes,” says Christos Galanopoulos, M.D., MBA, oncologic surgeon, V.P. Renown Health & Chair of Surgery for Renown Health.
Dr. Galanopoulos adds, “Most people begin screening for colorectal cancer after turning 50. However, some individuals may begin screenings earlier if they have an increased risk of colorectal cancer, such as a family history with the disease. Regardless of one’s personal or family history of colorectal cancer, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the right time to begin your screenings.”
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Healthy Habits Can Help Stave Off Risk
Max J. Coppes, MD, Cancer Center Director, Renown Institute for Cancer, adds, “While routine screenings are the only way to determine colorectal health, some healthy habits may reduce your risk for colorectal cancer. These factors include maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, eating a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, limiting alcohol intake and not smoking.”
Dr. Coppes explains that “1 in 500 Americans will test positive for Lynch Syndrome, a genetic condition that raises your risk of colon cancer, endometrial cancer, and other cancers. It is also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. People with Lynch Syndrome are also susceptible to colon polyps at a younger age. The Healthy Nevada Project research team is looking at the occurrence of important inherited genetic variants in our population that increase certain diseases’ risk. These include Familial Hypercholesterolemia, Hereditary Breast, and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome and Lynch Syndrome.”
RELATED: Essential Health Screenings for Men
Join the Healthy Nevada Project
To enroll in The Healthy Nevada Project, a clinical study (saliva test) offering the opportunity to learn about your ancestry, diet insights, and genetic risks linked to heart disease and certain cancers, including prevention strategies, at no cost, enroll here. Nevada residents may request a free DNA test kit that will be shipped to your home for a limited time.
This month, let’s help raise awareness for colorectal cancer and the importance of routine, life-saving screenings.