Latinos and Colon Cancer Awareness

Jun 4, 2019

Doctor says early screening is critical to prevent, treat colon cancer in Latinos


SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – Latinos are more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer in advanced stages. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Latino men and third leading in Latinas. Survival rates after diagnosis are also lower for Latinos and this may be due to their not receiving timely screening and treatment. (Source: American Cancer Society)

Colon cancer is considered a silent killer because often there are no symptoms until it is too late to cure. Latinos younger than 50 may need to undergo screening if they have a family history.

Rolando Saenz, M.D., board certified colon and rectal surgeon, who practices at Baptist Health System, said it is important to remind the Hispanic community to speak with their doctors about their risk and screening for this deadly disease.

Colorectal or colon cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. Sometimes abnormal growths, called polyps, form in the colon or rectum. Over time, some polyps may turn into cancer. Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. Oftentimes patients aren’t aware they have polyps or cancer. Therefore, regular screening is important.

Colon cancer symptoms may include the following:

  • Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement)
  • Persistent stomach pain, aches or cramps
  • Unusual/unexplained weight loss

The only way to know what is causing symptoms is to see a doctor.

A physician specializing in colon cancer can perform a screening to identify polyps so they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment works best. Screening includes various types of stool tests, a flexible sigmoidoscopy, a colonoscopy or virtual colonoscopy, which are the most common screenings.

Dr. Saenz recommends patients speak with their physician about their risk factors, how to prevent the disease. Patients should also discuss with their doctor the various screenings available and the advantages and disadvantages of each to determine which test is best suited for them.

(Sources cited: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

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