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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Paramus Health Officer Judith Migliaccio urges you to schedule an annual visit with your doctor. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer found in our country and responsible for more than 50,000 deaths each year, yet it is also one of the most curable forms of the disease. Caught early and with proper treatment, most patients return to normal lives.
People at risk for the disease are those with a family history of colorectal cancer, or those who have had polyps of the colon, ulcerative colitis or diabetes. People eating a diet high in fat and those who use alcohol and cigarettes are also at higher risk. Obesity, physical inactivity, red meat and processed meat consumption also increases the risk of colorectal cancer. A healthy diet and physical activity will aid in decreasing your risk of colorectal cancer.
Colonoscopies, digital rectal exams and testing for blood in the stool, can be done for early detection of the disease. The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women at average risk for the disease should begin screening at age 50 and speak with their health care provider on testing schedules to follow.
A sigmoidoscopy should be scheduled ever 5 years and without additional risk factors a colonoscopy every 10 years. Board of Health member Mary Ann Uzzi urges all Paramus residents over the age of 50 to be tested for colorectal cancer.