Guests from Ascension addressed TM Rotary at Columbia St. Mary's Ozaukee to discuss the risk factors and screening process for colorectal cancer, a disease with a lifetime risk of 1 in 21 people being diagnosed.
Colon and rectal cancers are referred to as colorectal cancer because they have many features in common.  Cancer can develop in any part of the colon or rectum.  The cancer typically develops slowly over a period of several years.  Before the cancer actually develops, there are usually precancerous growths, referred to as polyps.
Screening for colorectal cancer offers a powerful opportunity for prevention, early detection and successful treatment of the cancer.  While people cannot change their genetic makeup or family health history, many people can help reduce their risk of this type of cancer by following screening guidelines, maintaining a healthy weight, increasing physical activity levels and limiting intake of processed or red meats.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Wisconsin for males and females combined.  From '09-'13, an annual average of 950 residents died of the disease.  The cancer mortality rate for that period was 14.2 per 100,000 with a rate of 16.8 per 100,000 for males and 12.1 per 100,000 for females.  
Hereditary and medical risk factors include personal or family history, inherited genetic conditions, personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease), and Type 2 diabetes.  Modifiable risk factors include lack of exercise, a diet high in red or processed meat, obesity, long-term smoking, alcohol consumption and very low intake of fruits and vegetables.
The most common form of screening for colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy every 10 years for those over the age of 40, or as recommended by a doctor for anyone with a family history of the disease.