Colorectal Cancer: Know your risk factors, seek innovative care

If caught early, colorectal cancer can be cured in many patients.

Red meat, sausage, bacon, ham—many people know they're all linked to colorectal cancer. Smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, obesity, and a low-fiber diet are also risk factors. And recent reports suggest that younger people are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer more often.

But the news is not all bad.

At UR Medicine and its Wilmot Cancer Institute, innovative treatments and a hard-earned new accreditation are improving outcomes, says Larissa Temple, M.D., chief of colorectal cancer surgery.

Here are three important facts to note about colorectal cancer:

1.If caught early, colorectal cancer can be cured in many patients.

2.CRC is highly preventable as a result of lifestyle changes and regular screening tests. Most people begin screenings at age 50, unless they have a strong family history of the disease or other conditions that may increase the risk and require earlier or more frequent testing. Talk to your physician about what's best for you. Today there are a variety of screening methods available.

3.Innovations in technology and surgical techniques make it easier on patients who are diagnosed with cancer allowing for a "less is more" approach. Temple, who practiced at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City before coming to Rochester two years ago, is an expert in minimally invasive procedures. She has a national reputation and oversees UR Medicine's Surgical Health Outcomes & Research Enterprise (SHORE).

Wilmot and its colorectal cancer team recently became one of only six institutions in the U.S. to achieve a special designation from a national accrediting organization. The Wilmot program is the first in New York and the Northeast to be recognized for providing rectal cancer patients the most streamlined, modern evaluations for their cancer; for care by large, integrated teams before, during, and after surgery; and for the latest and most innovative therapies available. The accreditation assures access to clinical trials and a "whole health" patient-centered approach.

"I am so proud to be in Rochester and upstate New York," Temple says. "The level of complex care that we bring to the entire region is astonishing and big point of pride for me and my talented team."

Her advice to folks who have concerns? "Talk to your primary care doctor immediately, even if you're young and are inclined to ignore symptoms," Temple says. "I've had patients who were afraid to say something for six to 12 months. But this is a disease that is more manageable if caught early."

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