Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

St. Elizabeth Physicians: your partner in colorectal health

St. Elizabeth Physicians is committed to raising awareness about colorectal cancer in the Tristate area. Every March, St. Elizabeth participates in Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a national effort to educate the public on colorectal cancer warning signs, symptoms and risk factors.

Signs to watch for: colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer can start with almost unnoticeable symptoms and slowly compound into more alarming symptoms. Rectum bleeding, changes in bowel habits and anemia are all warning signs to call your physician to schedule an exam – and possibly a colonoscopy.

“Traditionally, the American Cancer Society has recommended undergoing a colonoscopy beginning age 50 and repeating every 10 years if no polyps are found,” says Dr. Jai Bikhchandani, a Colorectal Surgeon at St. Elizabeth Physicians. “If polyps are found, the patient should return every five years for a colonoscopy.”

Polyps are small growths inside the colon. The cells in the polyp can eventually become cancerous if left to grow. During a colonoscopy, surgeons look for polyps and other growths and remove them during the procedure for biopsying.

Under the age of 50? Here’s what to watch for.
According to the Fight Colorectal Cancer organization, 90 percent of colon and rectal cancers are discovered in individuals over the age of 50. However, you can get colorectal cancer at any age – and that age seems to be getting younger and younger.

The American Cancer Society published an article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2017 that discussed the increasing rate of colorectal cancer in young and middle-age adults. While there isn’t a concrete reason for the rising incidence rate, researchers believe that obesity, low physical activity and diet are all factors.

Additional factors for the under-50 crowd to consider include:

  • Family History – if you have a family history of colorectal cancer, make your physician aware of it and agree upon a screening timeline. A general rule of thumb to begin screening: take the age that your family member was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and subtract 10.
  • Risk Factors – be aware of risk factors such as age, personal history of polyps or cancer or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Genetic Testing – there is a link between certain inherited genetic conditions and an increased rate of colorectal cancer. Genetic testing can especially help in early detection of colorectal cancer risk factors, aiding physicians in prevention and treatment of conditions that could lead to cancer.

Staying fit and healthy can go a long way in prevention. It’s important to stay physically active, maintain a healthy body weight, eat fruits/vegetables and avoid smoking and heavy alcohol use to help decrease your risk of cancer.

[Source: Fight Colorectal Cancer]

COCO, the colossal colon
In 2017, the colossal colon – COCO for short – made its debut about St. Elizabeth. The oversized model of the human colon is 40 feet long and four feet tall. COCO is back to educate the Northern Kentucky community in 2018. Visitors can walk through COCO the weeks of March 12 and March 19 at the St. Elizabeth Edgewood campus and learn more information about colon health and colorectal cancer.

To learn more about colorectal health or to schedule a colonoscopy at St. Elizabeth, please call (800) 737-7900 or visit