March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

In recognition of March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, BJC Help for Your Health is encouraging employees to understand the risk factors for colorectal cancer. For the ninth year, employees who commit to colorectal cancer prevention have an opportunity to win home exercise equipment valued at $1,000.

Eligible employees must:

  • pledge to schedule or encourage a family member or friend to schedule a screening test in 2017, based on the American Cancer Society guidelines or the advice of their physician
  • promote healthy nutrition and exercise in 2017
  • complete an educational quiz about colorectal cancer
  • turn in the completed pledge form by March 31
Learn more about colon cancer

Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S., with about 140,000 people diagnosed each year, and the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the U.S. Colorectal cancer refers to cancers in the colon or rectum. Most colorectal cancers begin as polyps, abnormal growths that may become cancers over a long period of time.

The good news is that individuals can take steps to prevent colon cancer by changing certain risk factors. Some changeable risk factors include not getting screened; being overweight; eating a diet high in red and processed meat; having low physical activity; drinking too much alcohol; smoking; and being low in certain nutrients.

Though colon cancer is preventable, there are a number of important risk factors that people can’t control, such as age, family history, being tall and having inflammatory bowel disease. Up to 5-6 percent of all colon cancers in the United States are caused by inherited colon cancer syndromes.

It’s important to note that 75 percent of patients with colon cancer have no symptoms, and 75 percent of patients with colorectal cancer have no family history. This means starting patient colon cancer screening at age 50 is very important. Several different colorectal cancer screening tests are used for detecting colon cancer, and they should be done at certain intervals.

The incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing in patients younger than 50. This age group represents about 10-12 percent of the total 140,000 cases/year. Alarmingly, cancers in the under-50 population are diagnosed at later stages and appear to be more aggressive tumor types, both of which have implications for prognosis and survival.

Overall, however, the death rate (the number of deaths per 100,000 people per year) from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for more than 20 years. This can be due to several factors. One is that polyps are being found by screening and removed before they can grow into cancers. Screening also allows more colorectal cancers to be found earlier, when the disease is easier to cure. Also, treatment for colorectal cancer has improved over the past several years. As a result, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.

Sources: Siteman Cancer Center and American Cancer Society

Take the BJC Help for Your Health Colorectal Cancer Awareness Quiz to test your level of colorectal cancer knowledge.

BJC Employees: Print out the quiz, answer the questions and submit for a chance to win a piece of exercise equipment valued at $1,000. 

BJC Employees: Take the quiz online below. (proceed to online quiz)

The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system.

 

True - The prostate, a gland that only men have, is located just below the bladder (the organ that collects and empties urine) and in front of the rectum (the lower part of the bowel). As part of the reproductive system, it produces fluid that makes up part of the semen. The prostate is typically about the size of a walnut in young men and can be larger in older men.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in U.S. men, behind only lung cancer.

 

True - Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in U.S. men. Each year more than 230,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States. Although prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in U.S. men, behind only lung cancer, it often can be treated successfully.

Usually there are no symptoms of prostate cancer.

 

True - Prostate cancer (especially early prostate cancer) usually doesn’t cause symptoms, but some men experience:

  • Weak or interrupted (“stop-and-go”) flow of urine
  • Sudden urge to urinate
  • Frequent urination (especially at night)
  • Trouble starting the flow of urine
  • Trouble emptying the bladder completely
  • Pain or burning while urinating
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • A pain in the back, hips or pelvis that doesn’t go away
  • Shortness of breath, feeling very tired, fast heartbeat, dizziness or pale skin caused by anemia

These symptoms are similar to another non-cancerous condition called benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate that can occur as a man ages. The prostate may get bigger and block the urethra or bladder, causing trouble urinating or sexual problems. Although it isn’t cancer, surgery may be needed.

Age, race and family history of prostate cancer can affect the risk of developing prostate cancer.

 

True - Although all men are at risk for prostate cancer, some factors, like family history and race, increase the risk. Risk factors for prostate cancer include:

  • Being 50 years of age or older
  • Being African American
  • Having a brother, son or father who had prostate cancer
  • Eating a diet high in fat or drinking alcoholic beverages

Men with prostate cancer need to get treatment right away.

 

False - Men with prostate cancer don’t always need to get treatment right away. Most men are diagnosed with prostate cancer when it’s still at an early stage — it’s small and hasn’t spread. There are many important factors to take into account before deciding on a treatment, such as age, general health and the likelihood that the cancer will cause problems. Some men, for example, choose to avoid possible surgery and possible radiation side effects, like incontinence or impotence, for as long as possible.

If the cancer is slow growing, men who are older or have other serious health problems might be inclined to consider active surveillance, instead of treatments that are likely to cause major side effects. Active surveillance means monitoring the cancer closely with regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests, digital rectal exams (DREs), and ultrasounds to see if the cancer is growing. Prostate biopsies may be done, too. If there’s a change in the test results, the doctor would then discuss treatment options.


Commit to Colorectal Cancer Awareness in March

One winner will be chosen from all entries to receive exercise equipment valued at $1,000. To be eligible, complete this form and submit it by March 31, 2017. The answers for the quiz will appear in the April 17, 2017, BJC TODAY.

By entering my name below, I certify:

I pledge to have a screening test for colorectal cancer based on the American Cancer Society guidelines or the advice of my doctor during 2017. 

I pledge to promote healthy nutrition and exercise during 2017.

* = Required Information