Assar Rather, MD

A Focus on Prevention: Let’s Make Colorectal Cancer History

Tuesday, March 21, 2023 | Cancer Care

The month of March commemorates National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. As a colorectal surgeon I see firsthand the impact of this deadly disease and am passionate about heightening awareness in Delaware. One alarming fact is that the rates of colon and rectal cancer continue to climb among younger adults in particular. About 30% of patients currently diagnosed with colorectal cancer diagnoses are under age 55.

Now for the good news—colorectal cancer is highly preventable with screening. Bayhealth has just launched a colorectal cancer awareness campaign with a totally ’80s vibe. We hope that it will provide a bit of nostalgia for many of you as we encourage everyone age 45 and older to be screened. You can download ’80s hits playlists perfect for easing your mind during your colonoscopy. And you can buy a cool t-shirt featuring neon colors and a cassette mix to support Bayhealth Cancer Center and help fund colorectal screenings for the underserved population right here in our communities.

Often there are no signs or symptoms of colon or rectal cancer, even in the later stages. That makes screening even more vital for prevention and early detection. A surgeon like myself or a gastroenterologist can remove polyps on the spot during a colonoscopy before cancer cells can form, or catch cancer in its earliest stage possible.

We continue to learn more about early-onset colorectal cancer but research suggests that unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity are contributing factors. Diets that are high in processed meats and fat, and low in fruits and vegetables have been linked. Other risk factors include family history, obesity, alcohol use, and smoking.

While a colonoscopy is considered the gold standard for colorectal screening there are other options available. Speak to your physician or contact Bayhealth’s Colorectal Cancer Screening Nurse Navigator who offers personalized assistance in scheduling your screening and answering any questions.

Our team at Bayhealth proudly partners with the Healthy Delaware initiative to help our community members lead healthier lives and lower their cancer risks through education and information on services and resources. For example, Screening for Life is available to help cover the cost of cancer screenings for those who are uninsured or can’t afford them.

When someone does face a cancer diagnosis, we want our community members to know they are in very good hands at Bayhealth. Getting cancer treatment early and with the most advanced techniques is key to a better outcome. Bayhealth was among the first 50 programs in the nation—and the first in Delaware—to earn recognition from the National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer (NAPRC). This means that we’re exceeding quality standards and offering the best possible care to patients who are diagnosed with rectal cancer.

Remember that colorectal cancer is preventable. Take action today by avoiding tobacco products, and by limiting alcohol use and consumption of red meat and processed meat. And start exercising daily, and eat a high-fiber diet that includes lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Schedule your screening today and tell your family and friends to do the same so together we can make colorectal cancer history!

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