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A Doctor's Call: How To Prevent Colon Cancer

March 01, 2017

Editor's note: March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. [caption id="attachment_4812" align="alignleft" width="145"] Dr. Christine Bartus[/caption] Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related fatalities in the United States, behind lung cancer. The disease is caused by polyps or lesions that form in the digestive tract that, if left unchecked, can become cancerous and eventually spread to other parts of the body. But while colorectal cancer remains a serious health issue, a growing emphasis on early screening and prevention is making great strides in reducing the rate of incidence and mortality. Screening for those 50 years old and over, in particular, has made a huge difference in being able to detect and remove polyps and lesions before they become cancerous. According to the American Cancer Society, the incidence of colorectal cancer in the U.S. has dropped by 30 percent over the last 10 years – a tribute to the growing awareness about the importance of colorectal screening. For those who receive a diagnosis of colorectal cancer, there is also much more hope than there has been in previous years. The overall mortality rate from colorectal cancer has also been declining significantly in recent years, thanks to advances in research and treatment which are making great strides in effectively managing and even curing the disease. I specialize in the surgical removal of cancerous colorectal polyps and other lesions, and my field has seen tremendous advances and innovations in surgical care in recent years. At the cancer center where I work, the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at The Hospital of Central Connecticut, we perform minimally invasive procedures that are extremely precise and highly effective in removing cancerous tissue without impacting surrounding healthy tissue. For the removal of routine polyps and lesions, it’s not uncommon for patients to be discharged within a day of their procedure, with a greater chance for long-term remission.

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For those in advanced stages of the disease, a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation is often required, but even in these cases great strides are being made. Innovations in research and methodology are changing the way we view cancer in terms of how it develops, how it grows and how it can be attacked. As a member of the Memorial Sloan Cancer Alliance, the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute has access to many of the leading-edge clinical trials and research protocols being conducted at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, one of the world’s premier cancer research centers. But  the best way that people can fight colorectal cancer is to take steps to prevent it by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and, for those 50 or over, getting screened annually. Avoiding colorectal cancer altogether, or eliminating it in its early stages, is the way to go. Dr. Christine Bartus specializes in colorectal oncology and minimally invasive surgery for the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at The Hospital of Central Connecticut, and provides consultations and other services at the Hartford HealthCare Medical Group in Plainville. For more information, click here.