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Colorectal Cancer: A Preventable Cancer

By Marc K. Taormina, MD and R. Wade McCullough, DO, Midwest Gastroenterology

Colorectal CancerWe cannot avert all cancers. Sometimes cancer develops regardless of lifestyle and genetics. We can, however, prevent many cases of colon and rectal cancers (colorectal cancers).

Early Screening is Key
Early screening examines the colon and rectum for any signs of disease. Early screening dramatically decreases the risk, and sometimes prevents, a colorectal cancer occurrence.

How Common is Colon Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures,1 in 2012 there were:
• 3,250 cases of colon and rectal cancer in Missouri
• 1,330 cases of colon and rectal cancer in Kansas
• 143,460 total cases of colon and rectal cancer in the United States

The National Cancer Institute2 estimates in 2013 there will be:
• 102,480 cases of colon cancer and 40,340 cases of rectal cancer

How is Colon Cancer Prevented?
Polyps in the large intestine can form due to age, diet, lack of exercise and genetic predisposition. If undetected, polyps may turn into cancer. A colonoscopy discovers polyps; if found, a physician painlessly removes them during the procedure to eliminate cancer risk.

What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?
The number one symptom of colon cancer is NO SYMPTOM. The Colon Cancer Alliance states:
“Seven out of 10 people with colon cancer have no symptoms at all, which means getting checked before symptoms develop is crucial.”

Symptoms of Colon Cancer can Include:
• Bleeding (blood on the stool or rectal bleeding)
• Change in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, narrow stools, feeling like the bowel does not empty)
• Abdominal discomfort (gas, bloating, cramps, pain)
• Weight loss or weight gain without known cause
• Fatigue
• Nausea or vomiting

Who is at Risk for Colon Cancer?
Screening is recommended for patients age 50 or older. Those at a higher risk for colorectal cancer may need screened earlier:3
• Family history of colorectal cancer, colon polyps, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
• Personal or family history of other cancer types
• African Americans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives and Jews of Eastern European decent
• Those with who smoke, eat a poor diet, heavily consume alcohol or lack exercise
• Patients with type 2 diabetes

How Do I Schedule a Screening for Colon Cancer?
Drs. Marc Taormina and Wade McCullough from Midwest Gastroenterology specialize in preventing colon and rectal cancers through colonoscopy screening. To schedule an appointment, please call (816) 836-2200 or visit


Marc K. Taormina, MD, FASGE, AGAF, FACG, FACP Board Certified Gastroenterology

Dr. Marc Kenneth Taormina practices gastroenterology, geriatric medicine and internal medicine. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine in 1976 and went on to complete his Internal Medicine Residency at the University of Hawaii. Dr. Taormina’s postgraduate training in Gastroenterology / Hepatology was completed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He has been in private practice in the Kansas City area since 1985.

R. Wade McCullough, DO, Member AGA, ASGE, ACG Boaard Certified Gastroenterology

Dr. R. Wade McCullough completed medical school at the University of Health Sciences, now KCUMB. He went on to complete the Internal Medicine Residency program and a Gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He has been in private practice since graduating his fellowship.

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