SSM Health Medical Minute – ‘Almost all deaths from colon cancer can be prevented’

Medical Minute

ST. LOUIS – A new study published recently in the “Journal of the National Cancer Institute” revealed new research on why Black Americans might be more vulnerable to colon cancer than white people. 

The research examined age-related “epigenetic” changes in colon tissue. These affect how genes work. In both Black and white people, one side of the colon ages biologically faster than the other.  But the side that ages faster is different, depending on race. Black Americans are disproportionately affected by colorectal cancer, being 20% more likely to develop colorectal cancer, and 40% more likely to die from it, according to the American Cancer Society.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States when men and women are combined. However, regular screening can find colorectal cancer when it is small, hasn’t spread, and might be easier to treat. Some types of screening can also help find and remove pre-cancerous growths called polyps before they have a chance to turn into cancer. The American Cancer Society and the gastroenterology and oncology community would like to see the current recommendations to begin screening at the age of 50, lowered to age 45.

“Almost all deaths can be prevented from screening through colonoscopies,” Dr. Lawrence Tierney, a gastroenterologist at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital in St. Charles, said

Tierney says that at this time across the United States, we know that Black Americans, “are being diagnosed with colon cancer at a younger age, and their mortality or death is higher than the rest of the population.” He says early screening means you have no symptoms.  The goal is to be screened before you have symptoms. 

Overall, colorectal cancer rates in the United States have dropped in recent years, but the decrease hasn’t been as large in Black Americans as in people of European descent. And even as overall rates have declined, the rate among younger people has gone up.

A colonoscopy is a visual examination of your lower GI tract, involving the large intestine, from the rectum to the cecum. This procedure is done using a flexible fiberoptic scope in order to diagnose disorders involving the large intestine. By using special instruments, your doctor may obtain biopsy specimens, remove foreign bodies or polyps and check for signs of bleeding and/or inflammation.

In patients with no gastrointestinal (GI) problems and no risk factors for colon cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends a first screening colonoscopy at age 50.

If you have bowel symptoms such as blood in your stool or a significant change in your bowel movements or their frequency, you should see a doctor right away. If you have any risk factors for colon cancer such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or a family history of colon cancer, your doctor may want to order the colonoscopy long before you turn 50.

To learn more about colonoscopies or to book an appointment, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7pm and FOX 2 News at 9pm.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Medical Minute

Healthcare information, educational topics, and cutting-edge health news happening locally. Sponsored by SSM Health


Latest News

More News