Colorectal Cancer Affects One out of 18 Americans

Swarna Balasubramaniam, M.D. and Nasrullah Manji, M.D.

Swarna Balasubramaniam, M.D. and Nasrullah Manji, M.D.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States. “Because of screening tests, colorectal cancer can be caught early, increasing the survival rate for those diagnosed with the disease,” said Dr. Swarna Balasubramaniam, board certified colorectal surgeon on staff at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital.

Colorectal cancer refers to cancer of the colon or rectum. While the exact cause is unknown, Balasubramaniam cites the following as risk factors that may increase a person’s chance of developing the disease.

• Age – The odds of developing colorectal cancer increase after age 50. Over 90 percent of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are age 50 and older.

• Family History – Having close relatives, including parents, siblings or children, who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer increases your risk. Therefore, earlier and more frequent screenings may be recommended by your physician.

• Personal History of Colorectal Polyps or Colorectal Cancer – A polyp is a growth that develops on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Some polyps may become cancerous.  If you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the past, the disease may reoccur.

• Lifestyle – Other risk factors include unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, smoking and bowel disorders such as Crohn’s disease.

“Although some risk factors like age and family history cannot be avoided, other factors are within your control,” said Dr. Nasrullah Manji, board certified gastroenterologist on staff at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “Choosing to follow a healthy lifestyle may help lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer.” Balasubramaniam warned, “Colorectal cancer usually does not present symptoms in its earliest stages.” But, as the cancer progresses, the following symptoms may develop:

• Irregular bowel habits, including constipation and diarrhea

• A constant feeling that you need to have a bowel movement

• Rectal bleeding or bloody stools

• Anemia (low blood count found on lab tests)

• Frequent stomach pains or cramps

If you or a loved one exhibit any of these symptoms or are at risk for developing the disease, don’t hesitate to consult a physician about being screened for colorectal cancer. Early screenings can save lives. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Balasubramaniam, Dr. Manji or another colorectal surgeon or gastroenterologist in your area, call Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s physician referral service at 281-274-7500.

Free Colorectal Cancer Seminar and Screening Kit

Join Dr. Swarna Balasubramaniam and Dr. Nasrullah Manji on Thursday, March 26th at 6 pm at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s Conference Center to learn more about colorectal cancer and take home a free colorectal cancer screening kit.  Registration is required. Register at or call 281-274-7500.