According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the United States. March is colorectal cancer awareness month and UT Health Austin’s Livestrong Cancer Institutes gastrointestinal oncologist Anna Capasso, MD, PhD, discusses incidence, screenings, and care in an interview with KXAN.
What is the incidence of Colon Cancer?
Colon Cancer is the 3rd highest cause of death in both men and women. In 2019, clinicians predict that over 150,000 new cases will be diagnosed with 51,000 deaths. In Travis County, cancer is the first leading cause of death. Dr. Capasso states that according to the Texas Cancer Registry from 2012-2016, 1500 patients were diagnosed and 500 died from colon cancer.
What should people know about getting checked and screened?
Dr. Capasso says screening is very important, she also notes that incidence has been decreasing in the past decade. She says this is an important sign, because it means the screening process is working. But she is also seeing earlier onset of colorectal cancer, which means that patients younger than 50 years old are getting a diagnosis of colorectal cancer and the trend is rising. It’s a troubling sign that younger people are developing this disease, but Dr. Capasso thinks it’s related to better screening, which leads to earlier treatment. This upward trend prompted the American Cancer Society in 2018 to change the initial screening age from 50 to 45 years old for adults.
The gold standard for diagnosis of colorectal cancer is by colonoscopy, but Dr. Capasso wants patients to know that stool-based testing is also very relevant.
If someone receives a diagnosis of colon cancer, what should they do next?
Dr. Capasso suggests that patients seek a medical oncologist at a cancer center. The Livestrong Cancer Institutes opened in December 2018 at UT Health Austin with a clinic dedicated to gastrointestinal cancer - where colorectal cancer is treated. The practice focuses on patient-centered care where multiple specialists can come together to provide the patient with the best treatment options and the best experience. Care plans are individualized for each patient.
(Note: March 2, 2019 coincided with the University of Texas at Austin Explore UT event.)
At Explore UT, Dell Medical School’s LIivestrong Cancer Institutes department offered a visual experience for visitors. The department provided a walk-through inflatable colon where people could see pre-lesion and lesions represented throughout the colon and doctors discussed options and what people can do to prevent colon cancer.
For more information about the Livestrong Cancer Institutes, please visit here or call 1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737).
- American Cancer Society Colorectal Cancer Facts and Figures
- Texas Cancer Registry Incidence and Mortality