This March, U of M cancer experts encourage screenings
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and University of Minnesota Physicians cancer experts want to use the month as an opportunity to dispel a number of myths surrounding one of the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States.
But as common as the condition has become, myths relating to the prevalence, detection and treatment of colorectal cancer still exist, which can be frustrating for doctors attempting to raise awareness around the disease.
A University of Minnesota colorectal cancer expert who can shed light on the truth around colorectal cancer and the most common misconceptions related to the disease is:
Robert D. Madoff, M.D., a University of Minnesota professor in the Department of Surgery and Chief, Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery.
“Despite our progress in fighting colorectal cancer, a number of myths still persist, such as colorectal cancer being a man’s disease, or that it can’t be prevented,” said Madoff. “These myths make it harder to get accurate information into the hands of our patients.”
According to Dr. Madoff, here are some other common colorectal cancer myths:
MYTH: Colonoscopies are painful.
FACT: While colonoscopies can be uncomfortable, patients generally report the procedure is quite tolerable. Mild sedation and pain medication is given before the procedure begins and a flexible tool is used for the actual investigation. And not only are colonoscopies safe and relatively easy on the patient, recent research has proven that colonoscopies are saving lives. This procedure does identify early cancers that can be removed before they spread, its main purpose is to catch precancerous polyps before they grow into cancer.
MYTH: There’s no way to avoid colorectal cancer if you have a family history of the disease.
FACT: Individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer do have an increased risk of developing the disease. But this risk can be reduced substantially by patient education, more intensive screening, and sometimes by genetic testing.
MYTH: Colorectal cancer hits white populations the hardest.
FACT: According to the American Cancer Society, African American men and women actually have the highest rates of colorectal cancer nationally, and are also more likely to die from the disease than any other racial or ethnic group. However, in Minnesota, American Indians have the highest risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer.
MYTH: Colorectal cancer cannot be treated.
FACT: Colorectal cancer is highly treatable, especially if caught early. This is why early detection is the key to beating colorectal cancer, and why colonoscopies have become such an important part of personal care. Treatment for colorectal cancer has also come a long way. The vast majority of patients do not require a colostomy, and many patients can now have their surgery done using a minimally invasive approach. Advances in chemotherapy and radiation make this cancer easier to target, along with new drugs developed specifically for colorectal cancer patients.
Madoff encourages everyone to learn fact versus fiction with relation to colorectal cancer and stay ahead of the disease with regular screenings and body awareness.
“Prevention is the goal, and early detection is the key,” he said. “While most Americans are following general guidelines for colon and rectal health, it’s important to understand your symptoms and be aware of your personal risks.”
To schedule an interview with Madoff, contact Caroline Marin, Academic Health Center, (612) 624-5680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today’s breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit www.umn.edu/news. Views expressed by experts do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Minnesota.