Ask the expert: Discussing myths surrounding colorectal cancer

March 15, 2023 - MSUToday

Originally published March 15, 2023 on MSUToday

Colorectal cancer affects more than 150,000 people each year, yet persistent myths surrounding this illness often keep people from talking to their doctors about it.

Jacquelyn Charbel is an assistant professor in the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, a colorectal surgeon and MSU Health Care provider. She discusses myths around colorectal cancer. 

Let's talk about colon health. It seems that colon cancer screening is not a priority for many people. Why should somebody get screened?

Everyone should be screened for colon cancer because it affects both men and women. Colon cancer is the third leading cancer in the United States in both men and women and kills 50,000 people per year. In fact, the American Cancer Society lowered the guidelines from age 50 to 45 for your first screening colonoscopy because we have seen an increase in colon cancer in people younger than 50.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colon and rectal cancers arise most commonly due to polyps that are not removed. Not all polyps become cancer, but most cancers do come from colon polyps. So, it's really important to have the polyps removed before they make that cancerous transition.

What are some risk factors?

Risk factors for colon cancer include a family history of the disease, lack of physical activity, morbid obesity, a low vitamin D level, and excessive consumption of red meat, soda and alcohol.

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