Colorectal Cancer: Preventable Disease is Second Leading Cause of Cancer Death

Monday, March 28, 2016

Greenwich, CT  – About 50 percent of people who would benefit from having a colonoscopy don’t undergo the screening procedure, putting them at risk for developing colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

“We are all at risk,” said Peter McWhorter, MD, a fellowship-trained colorectal surgeon who recently joined Greenwich Hospital’s medical staff.

As part of National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. McWhorter will be speaking at “Preventing and Beating Colon and Rectal Cancers” on Wednesday, March 30, from 6 - 7 pm in Greenwich Hospital’s Noble Conference Center.

Dr. McWhorter offers this advice about identifying, diagnosing and treating colorectal cancer.

Is colorectal cancer preventable?

“Absolutely,” said Dr. McWhorter. “One of the best things we can do for our health is to have a colonoscopy to remove suspicious polyps before they become cancerous.” During a colonoscopy, doctors can examine the inner lining of the large intestine (rectum and colon) and immediately remove suspicious polyps for further testing.

Who should be screened?

The American Cancer Society recommends people start getting checked for colorectal cancer at age 50. Africans Americans, though, should begin screening at age 45. “African Americans are at greater risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer,” he said.

Symptoms include change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding or blood in stool and abdominal discomfort lasting longer than four weeks. “But some people don’t have any symptoms, making it crucial for everyone to have a colonoscopy to catch colorectal cancer early,” he said.

What are the treatment options?

“Surgery offers the best chance for a cure when the disease is detected at an early stage. We now use minimally invasive techniques and small incisions that lead to less pain and a quicker recovery,” he said. Some patients may require radiation and medical oncology treatments.

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Greenwich Hospital is a member of Yale New Haven Health. Greenwich is a 206-bed (includes 32 isolettes) community hospital serving lower Fairfield County, Connecticut and Westchester County, New York. It is a academic affiliate of Yale School of Medicine. Since opening in 1903, Greenwich Hospital has evolved into a progressive medical center and teaching institution representing all medical specialties and offering a wide range of medical, surgical, diagnostic and wellness programs. Greenwich Hospital is recognized throughout the healthcare industry as a leader in service and patient satisfaction excellence. Greenwich Hospital has the prestigious Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the nation’s highest honor of nursing excellence.

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