Free colon cancer screening & lecture Feb. 25

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States today and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the country. Oftentimes colorectal cancer can be detected and prevented if simple steps are followed. Silver Cross Hospital is offering a free lecture and screening to teach prevention and detection tips.


Free Program

Gastroenterologists Dr. Douglas Lee, Dr. Jeffrey Port, and Dr. Zahid Afzal, all from Southwest Gastroenterology, will share why it is important for men and women to have regular colorectal screenings beginning at age 50 at a free program on Tuesday, Feb. 25. The event will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, Pavilion A, 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox.  All participants will receive free colon cancer screening kits.  Refreshments will be provided with an opportunity to win gift certificates that are sponsored by Southwest Gastroenterology. Register to attend at www.silvercross.org or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).


“A majority of colorectal cancer cases can be cured when found and treated at an early stage, so regular screenings are very important,” said Dr. Douglas Lee, gastroenterologist, with Southwest Gastroenterology. 


Risk Factors

Researchers are learning more about what causes colon cancer and how it grows and progresses, however, no one knows the exact cause of colon cancer, but we do know some of the risk factors.


Research indicates that a high-fat diet, lack of fiber, inactivity, obesity, environmental exposure to carcinogens and genetic predisposition are factors. To help protect yourself, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, exercise regularly and get screened before you experience symptoms.


Your chances of developing colon cancer are higher if you have any of the following:

•          History of large polyps (growths in the colon). A first-degree relative—mother, father, sister, or brother—who had colon cancer before 65 years of age.

•          A history of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or precancerous changes in the lining of the colon.

•          Colon cancer risk is noted at age 50. Most cases occur in people over 65 years of age. Fewer than 2 percent of cases occur in those individuals under 40 years of age.


Get Screening before Symptoms

You may not know you have colorectal cancer because there are no warning signs in the early stages of the disease.  The concept of screening is being tested when a person is feeling fine and has no symptoms or problems. The best way to know if you have colorectal cancer—before you have symptoms—is to be screened for the disease.


Anyone can be stricken with colorectal cancer. Men and women over age 50 have the greatest risk. “You should have screenings earlier and more frequently if you have a family or personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps, or have a personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease,” says Dr. Lee.


However, when symptoms do occur, they may include:

•          any change in the usual pattern or frequency of bowel habits

•          diarrhea, constipation, or a feeling that your bowels have not emptied completely

•          blood in the stool that is either bright-red or very dark

•          stools that are narrower than usual

•          frequent gas pains, cramping, or bloating.


The majority of colon cancer cases begin as small, non-cancerous growths—called polyps—that can become cancerous over time. Polyps may appear in either the colon or the rectum, both of which are part of the large intestine. Fortunately, up to 90% of colon and rectal cancers can be prevented just by finding and removing polyps before they become a cancer.


For a referral to a physician who performs endoscopic surgery, call the Silver Cross Physician Referral Service at 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).



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