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Ridley-Tree Cancer Center: Colorectal cancer rates rising among young adults

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Doctors at Sansum Clinic and Ridley-Tree Cancer Center say colorectal cancer rates are on the rise among people under age 50.

As part of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, local doctors are urging community members to understand their risks and to get screened.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 153,000 patients will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the United States this year.

Ten percent of those diagnosed will be younger than age 50.

Colorectal cancer is projected to become the leading cause of cancer death in adults under 50. 

In the U.S., colorectal cancer is the third most commonly-diagnosed cancer.

It's also the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths overall.

Dr. Mukul Gupta of Ridley-Tree Cancer Center, a Medical Oncologist & Hematologist is encouraging the community to get tested for colorectal cancer.

He says certain lifestyle factors like excess body weight, physical inactivity and smoking increase colorectal cancer risk in adults.

Consumption of red and processed meat, starchy foods, refined carbohydrates, sugary drinks and moderate to heavy alcohol use are also associated with a higher risk of developing cancer.

Conversely, eating a variety of whole foods including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish or poultry, and consuming fewer red and processed meats are associated with lower cancer risk.

45 is the recommended age to begin colorectal cancer screening.

If you have symptoms, a family member with colorectal cancer or polyps, or specific inherited conditions, you should get a colonoscopy earlier than age 45.

During a colonoscopy, doctors can find precancerous polyps and remove them before they become cancerous.

If cancer is found in its early stages, it is easier to treat.

Treatment for colorectal cancer most often includes surgery. The stage or extent of the cancer impacts treatment. People with cancer in their colon that has not spread to other parts of the body, usually have surgery as the first course of treatment. Afterwards, patients may receive chemotherapy, immunotherapy and/or targeted therapy to treat their cancer.

Treatment for people with cancer in their rectum and/or anus (which are the last parts of the GI tract) is quite different than treatment for people with colon cancer. Treatment for rectal and anal cancer most often involves a combination of radiation, chemotherapy and possibly surgery. Rectal cancer treatment can span multiple months to one year, and often involves multiple surgeries.

Ridley-Tree Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer Program provides comprehensive medical expertise and supportive care to treat cancers and conditions of the digestive system, including colon, rectal and anal cancer.  

The colorectal cancer treatment team at Ridley-Tree Cancer Center is using a new protocol for some rectal cancer patients who may be able to avoid surgery.

Chemotherapy and radiation in some patients can cause the tumor to shrink and go away completely even before surgery is performed. In this “watch and wait” approach, patients are closely monitored by physicians and undergo tests every 3-4 months to make sure the tumor does not return.

Although some patients are able to enroll in this protocol, the majority of patients still require surgery to reach a cure. This same protocol is also being used to manage some patients’ anal cancer.

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Article Topic Follows: News
cancer treatments
colorectal cancer
Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Ridley-Tree Cancer Center
sansum clinic
Santa Barbara

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Patricia Martellotti

Patricia Martellotti is a reporter for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Patricia, click here.


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