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Hendrick Health experts stress importance of early detection for colorectal cancer

Hendrick Health experts stress importance of early detection for colorectal cancer

Each March, the nation focuses on educating and bringing awareness to screenings and early detection during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. To help promote a healthy community, Hendrick Health experts encourage community members to talk with their doctors and get the recommended colon cancer screenings.

Colorectal cancer, also referred to as colon cancer, is a malignant tumor that causes the cells in the body to grow out of control in the colon or rectum. This tumor can be created by abnormal growths called polyps that, over time, have turned into cancer.

“Colon cancer is preventable through guideline-based recommendations regarding routine screening,” said Dr. Steven Smith, gastroenterologist at Hendrick Health. “We have the technology and tools available for early detection and treatment of colorectal cancer.”

The leading cause of this cancer, according to the CDC, is precancerous polyps. Because some polyps can form in the colon years before invasive cancer begins to develop, colorectal cancer screenings are crucial for early detection. These screenings can identify precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Colorectal cancer has increased in younger individuals, which is why the guideline for screening age has been lowered to 45.

Treatments for this cancer can vary depending on the stage and can include removal through a colonoscopy with snare polypectomy, through surgical intervention or with chemotherapy.

Individuals should talk with their healthcare provider if they are experiencing:

  • Blood in stool
  • Diarrhea, constipation or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
  • Abdominal pain, aches or cramps
  • Unintentional weight loss

“While some risk factors are unavoidable, like family history and genetics, simple lifestyle changes can lower the risk of colon cancer,” said Smith. “Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, getting regular physical activity and avoiding smoking will help reduce the risk of colon cancer and other chronic diseases.”

To promote early detection, Hendrick Health offers a free colorectal cancer screening for eligible individuals. Visit or call 325-670-4488 to take the assessment. To find a gastroenterologist, visit