Colorectal Cancer Trends and Treatment

Ralph V. Boccia, MD, a cancer specialist at RCCA Maryland, provides some insight into recent colorectal cancer trends and treatments that are giving new hope to doctors, researchers and patients nationwide. Overall, Dr. Boccia finds much to be encouraged by, but also points to the need for awareness of a concerning development in the field of colorectal cancer.

How Far We’ve Come and Where We’re Going

As a whole, colorectal cancer rates have been dropping. According to the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Maryland alone has seen a 2.6% decrease in the amount of new CRC patients diagnosed over a five-year period. Dr. Boccia believes this trend can be partly attributed to the following:

  • Widespread increase in colonoscopies and other CRC screening methods
  • Early detection and removal of polyps before they become cancerous
  • More cases being diagnosed at an early stage – when the cancer is more responsive to treatment

Despite the good news, it’s still projected that 2,358 Maryland residents will be diagnosed and that 927 people will die from the disease this year, says Dr. Boccia. Doctors have also been noticing an uncharacteristic increase in the amount of younger adults being diagnosed with CRC. Since it typically affects individuals above the age of 50, this emerging demographic has been cause for concern. But Dr. Boccia and his colleagues will continue to conduct research and make further strides in colorectal cancer care to better serve patients of all ages.

Current Treatment Options

Surgical innovations, targeted therapies, immunotherapies, chemotherapy and clinical trials are paving the way for more effective CRC solutions. Dr. Boccia explains, “We have a greater ability than ever before to individualize care, and to offer patients multi-modal treatment regimens that employ a variety of mechanisms of action to combat cancer by different means.”

Reducing Your Risk

Follow these tips to help reduce your risk for developing colorectal cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay physically active
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes and only drink alcohol in moderation
  • Get a CRC screening regularly
  • Consult a physician right away if you experience any CRC symptoms, such as blood in the stool and persistent abdominal pain
  • Manage other conditions that may increase your risk for CRC, like type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and adenomatous polyps
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