In Focus, KTTU-TV-18, 10:30 AM, 10/18/09

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

Host Bob Lee interviews Alfred Cohen, MD, FACS, FASCRS, Surgical Director, Arizona Cancer Center and clinical professor of surgery, Arizona Health Sciences Center at the U of A.  Colorectal cancer affects both men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, and is most often found in people aged 50 years or older. 

Cohen says colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Besides polyps, he says diet, heredity and age are typical risk factors for the disease.  He says if detected early, polyps that are cancerous are easily removed, preventing the spread of the disease to other organs.  He says it is estimated that at least 50%–60% of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if all men and women aged 50 years or older were screened routinely. 

Cohen  says colorectal cancers have a very high cure rate if found early, but most colorectal cancers are grow slowly and often do not produce symptoms until they reach a large size. He says treatment involves either surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.  He says the stage of the cancer will determine the best treatment option.  He says keeping a healthy weight combined with regular exercise have been shown to prevent colorectal cancer.  

Cohen says scientists are learning more about some of the inherited and acquired changes in DNA that cause cells of the colon and rectum to become cancerous. He says recent discoveries of inherited genes that increase a person's risk of developing colorectal cancer are already being used in genetic tests to inform people most at risk.