The Women's Health Resource Center
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer, and the third leading cause of cancer deaths among women. These cancers arise from the lining of the colon and rectum. Because most colorectal cancers grow slowly and often have no symptoms, regular screening is extremely important. Screening beginning at age 50 is critical, as colorectal cancer is preventable and curable, if detected early. Our GI lab offers diagnostic colonoscopy at several convenient locations.
Cancer of the colon and rectum usually begins as a polyp. Polyps are benign growths in the lining of the large intestine. Although most polyps never become cancerous, virtually all colon and rectal cancers start from these benign growths. Polyps, precursors of colorectal cancer, can be removed during a colonoscopy. Larger cancers usually require abdominal surgery, which can be performed with a laparoscope or as traditional open surgery.
Everyone is at risk for colorectal cancer. The majority of people who develop colorectal cancer have no known risk factors. Because early colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, regular screening is important. Those at highest risk for developing colorectal cancer include people with a personal history of polyps, poor diet, chronic inflammatory conditions of the colon or a family history of colorectal cancer or hereditary polyp syndromes. Age and heredity are the biggest risk factors. Women over age 50 are at increased risk, and the risk doubles each decade after age 60. Women have a higher risk for colon cancer, while men are more likely to develop rectal cancer.
For more information contact the Women's Health Resource Center at 415-600-0500, the Community Health Resource Center at 415-923-3155 or the Institute for Health and Healing at 415-600-3660.
There are many services available at California Pacific to support persons with cancer. For details, see our Cancer Services Directory.
What you can do…
- If you are over 50 years of age, discuss appropriate screenings with your health care provider.
- Eat a diet low in fat and high in fiber, calcium and folic acid.
- Get plenty of aerobic exercise three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.