SPRINGFIELD – Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer, and it’s increasingly impacting adults under the age of 50, what was once the benchmark age to begin preventative screenings.
That’s why Mercy Health – Springfield is urging everyone to talk to their doctors about any suspicious symptoms, such as constipation, stomach pain, rectal bleeding, or sudden changes in bowel movements. Knowing the early warning signs can help you recognize them earlier and get treatment faster.
“These cancers are serious but also highly preventable, and they can be cured if detected at an earlier stage,” said Dr. Sandra Victor, a radiation oncologist at the Mercy Health – Springfield Cancer Center. “So, pay attention to your body and if something seems off, it’s important to bring that to the attention of your doctor.”
Colorectal cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in your rectum or colon. Unfortunately, symptoms only appear after the disease spreads. That makes routine screenings like a colonoscopy key, because even before you start showing symptoms, this medical test allows your doctor to detect and remove precancerous polyps in the large intestine.
Despite encouraging trends showing a decrease in this form of cancer, the incidence of colon cancer for those under age 50 has risen. The American Cancer Society recently revised its guidelines to reflect the trend, lowering the recommended age to begin screenings from 50 to 45.
“We really don’t know why this shift is happening to where younger age groups are being affected more. It’s probably because of lifestyle choices,” said Victor. “Over the last few decades, people have become more sedentary and aren’t eating as healthy with more low-fiber, high-fat diets, and diets high in processed meats. It’s easier now than ever to get these types of meals delivered directly to your door.”
Thanks to improved treatment, early detection, and emphasis on prevention, more than 1 million colorectal cancer survivors live in the U.S.
Just last year Mercy Health – Springfield announced a new affiliation with The Ohio State University Comprehensive Care Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute’s The James Cancer Network (OSUCCC – James) to enhance cancer care services for patients throughout Clark and Champaign counties. This new partnership will provide Mercy Health – Springfield physicians and patients with access to the expertise and specialists at the OSUCCC – James, as an affiliate of The James Cancer Network. All of this helps support the goal of making health care easier and providing services closer to home.
“We really appreciate the support The James is providing along with access to additional ongoing clinical trials so that we can provide our patients with the very best care,” Victor said.
To learn more, call 937-323-5001 or visit mercy.com.
Info from Mercy Health – Springfield, part of Bon Secours Mercy Health one of the 20 largest health systems in the United States and the fifth-largest Catholic health system in the country.