Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
With the New Year just beginning, many take the time to reassess their health and take the opportunity to make positive changes, especially when it comes to cancer prevention. It is estimated that more than 50,000 new cases of cancer will have been diagnosed in New Jersey in 2012, and 16,000 Garden State residents will die of the disease. The most important things you can do to protect yourself from cancer include staying away from tobacco; maintaining a healthy weight; eating plenty of fruits and vegetables; engaging in regular physical activity; limiting alcohol intake; and knowing your family history and health risks.
Even if you adopt all of these healthy habits, or if you have not always been able to follow these guidelines, there still remains a significant risk for the development of cancer. Early detection is a key to minimizing cancer’s impact on your overall health, and it is the best way to maximize your chances of being cured. Regular check-ups and cancer screening tests are a key to maintaining your health and assuring a long and healthy life.
Cancer screening involves the use of a periodic history and physical exam by a health care provider to look for signs of cancer and to identify any personal risk factors (tobacco use, obesity, family history, etc.). It also involves the use of periodic tests to look for evidence of early cancers or even pre-cancerous lesions such as colon polyps that may be removed before they actually turn into cancer. It is important to keep in mind that cancer screening is designed to find early cancers in asymptomatic patients who do not have any strong risk factors. People with strong risk factors or symptoms should promptly meet with their health care provider to determine what immediate steps should be taken to diagnose a possible cancer.
Colon and Rectal Cancer:
It is important that you speak regularly with your health care provider about cancer risk and cancer screening, so that an optimal prevention and screening regimen can be designed to meet your needs and circumstances. Don’t forget, you can help take control of your own cancer health!
David A. August, MD, is the chief of Surgical Oncology at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey and a professor of surgery at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Dr. August is also the director of the Gastrointestinal/Hepatobiliary Oncology Program at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey.