Colon Cancer Down Across U.S., Still More Work for Louisiana

The latest report on colon cancer is a sign of good news, but more still needs to be done to increase screening rates in southern states, such as Louisiana. Colorectal cancer currently ranks third among cancers as a killer of American men and women, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

The rate of adults in the United States developing and dying from colorectal cancer has decreased, according to a new Vital Signs report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Due to increased screenings, decline in risk factors and improvements in treatment, the prevalence colon cancer decreased 13 percent, and the death rate declined 12 percent between 2003 and 2007 the report said. That means about 66,000 cases and 32,000 deaths were prevented.

Colorectal cancer screening increased overall from 52 percent in 2002 to 65 percent in 2010. Still, about 1 in 3 people between the ages of 50 and 75 are not up to date with recommended colorectal cancer screening. Increasing screenings to 70.5 percent by 2020 would save an additional 1,000 lives each year, the CDC said.

“Many people are still not getting screened,” said Dr. Mark Hebert, General Surgeon at Thibodaux Regional Health System. “Earlier detection greatly improves the chances of being cured.”

The report screening is lower and the proportion of late-stage colorectal cases higher in Southern states, compared with other regions.

Many people are uncomfortable getting a screening when they feel healthy,” said Dr. Hebert. “Early detection is important, and colon cancer screening can identify abnormal growths and we can remove them before they turn into cancer.”

Although Louisiana ranks as one of the highest mortality rates in the nation, Thibodaux Regional’s cancer survival rates exceed national norms for breast, prostate, colon and lung cancer, the four most prevalent forms of cancer in our region.

With leading-edge technology and use of the best clinical protocols available, patients at Thibodaux Regional Health System have much higher five-year survival rates than the national average. According to the National Cancer Institute SEER data, colon cancer survival rates are 80 percent compared to 65 percent nationally.

These numbers are largely due to the extra measures taken by staff members at the Cancer Center of Thibodaux Regional to ensure patients receive the individualized care they deserve.

Getting Screened

The CDC recommends that everyone age 50-75 and younger adults who are at high risk for the disease get screened for colon cancer. Acceptable screening methods include:

  • A test for blood in the stool (called at fecal occult blood test, or FOBT) that is done at home every year.
  • A flexible sigmoidoscopy done by a health care provider every five years combined with a FOBT every three years.
  • A colonoscopy performed every 10 years.

For more information about cancer services at Thibodaux Regional or how to schedule your colonoscopy, call (985) 493-4700.

About Thibodaux Regional Health System

Thibodaux Regional Health System, a 185-bed acute care facility, provides inpatient and outpatient care for the people of Lafourche and seven surrounding parishes. Highly specialized services offered include Heart Surgery, Medical and Radiation Oncology, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Sports Medicine, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, General, Laparoscopic, and Bariatric Surgery, Pulmonology, Rheumatology, Women’s Services, Sleep Disorders, Behavioral Health, and Inpatient and Outpatient Physical Rehabilitation Services.

Nationally recognized for quality care and service, Thibodaux Regional has been named a Distinguished Hospital by J.D. Power and Associates and has been honored with the Press Ganey Summit Award for high levels of patient satisfaction. In 2009, Thibodaux Regional received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer for the second time and is the only hospital in Louisiana to do so.