March 1, 2011 at 1:11 pm

In honor of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, local oncologists explain colorectal cancer and how screening can make all the difference

(March 1, 2011) Pinellas Park, Fla. — When it comes to colorectal cancer, there’s some good news and some bad news. The bad news: More than 100,000 new cases of this disease will be diagnosed in 2011. The good news: Cases of colorectal cancer are steadily on the decline due to increased screening measures. But whether good or bad, colorectal cancer is certainly news this month, as March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

“It’s important to bring attention to this disease to increase understanding of colorectal cancer,” says Robert Miller, M.D., oncologist at Wellspring Oncology. “It’s the perfect time for people to learn more about this highly preventable cancer and the best ways to reduce the risk of developing it.”

Colorectal Cancer and Its Symptoms
Colorectal cancer is a cancer that begins in either the colon, also known as the large intestine, or the rectum, which lies at the end of the colon. The disease begins in the glands of these organs, slowly developing into abnormal, but noncancerous, growths called polyps. If left undetected, these polyps can develop into cancer. It is a slow-developing disease which may take many years to progress and show few to no symptoms in the beginning.

“Unfortunately, colorectal cancer may occur without any symptoms at all,” says Miller. “However, that is not true with all cases of the disease. There are signs to look out for which, though they may often be symptoms of less serious health problems, can be associated with colorectal cancer.” Some of these signs include:
• Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
• A drastic change in bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea, or incontinence that lasts for more than a few days
• Abdominal pain or bloating in the lower abdomen
• Unexplained weight loss
• Weakness and tiredness, signs of anemia
• Vomiting

Am I At Risk?
“There is no single risk factor that causes colorectal cancer to develop,” says Miller, “which means that everyone is at risk of developing the disease. This is why cancer screening is so important. Still, there are certain individuals who may have a higher risk than others.” Risk factors include a family history of colorectal cancer or a current health issue such as inflammatory bowel disease or cancer elsewhere in the body. Other factors that increase one’s risk are:
• Age. As our age increases, so does the risk of developing colorectal polyps and cancer. People over age 60 are at highest risk.
• Lifestyle. Risk is increased for those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol, are overweight and don’t exercise regularly.
• Smoking. Cigarette smoking can increase your colorectal cancer risk by up to three times.
• Poor diet. Diets high in processed foods and red meats can contribute to an increased risk.

Reducing Your Risk
Colorectal cancer is a potentially fatal disease if left undetected and untreated. However, there are ways to both reduce your risk of the disease and find it early if it does develop. Many of these preventative measures include lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet high in fiber and low in fat, as well as engaging in regular exercise and quitting smoking. However, the number-one way to prevent colorectal cancer is through regular testing after the age of 50.

“Screening for colorectal cancer is the absolute best way of preventing the disease from developing or progressing,” says Miller. “If detected at an early stage, it is a highly treatable cancer, so testing for the disease can be one of the most powerful ways of preventing it.”

About WellSpring Oncology: Doctors Robert Miller, Zucel Solc and Frank Franzese opened the doors of WellSpring Oncology in spring of 2008 to provide high-end treatment in a more personal and caring environment. The doctors at WellSpring Oncology have been practicing innovative radiation therapy since the 1970’s and developed the center to ensure patients have access to the latest technology available in the treatment of cancer. The doctors of WellSpring Oncology are all board-certified in radiation oncology and received their training at the top centers in the country, including MD Anderson, Memorial Sloan Kettering and the University of California San Francisco.

WellSpring Oncology is located at 6600 Sixty Sixth Street North in Pinellas Park, Florida. For more information, contact WellSpring Oncology at (727) 343-0600 or visit them online at

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