Colorectal carcinoma is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the US and the second leading cause of cancer mortality, second to only lung cancer. Screening programs have led to earlier detection and thus decreased incidence and increased survival rates. Surgical resection is the mainstay of therapy, however recent research has shown that adjuvant therapies can aid in survival of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is hereditary in about 10% of cases, however most cases are sporadic in origin.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer are either due to colonic obstruction, resulting in new onset of constipation, change in bowel habits, urgency to evacuate the bowels, cramping abdominal pain, bloody stools and frequent bowel movements and diarrhea, or due to anemia which is secondary to gastrointestinal bleeding. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, weakness, skin pallor, trouble breathing on exertion and palpitations.
According to the current screening guidelines, the general population should begin screening for colorectal cancer at the age of 50. A sigmoidoscopy is recommended to be performed every 5 years and a colonoscopy every 10 years. For high risk groups, namely those with a family history of colorectal cancer especially members diagnosed before 50 years of age, those who have a personal history of adenomatous polyps, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, or those who are African American or have a personal history of other types of cancers, should begin screening at an earlier age than the general population. Other screening tests that may be of some value include a Digital Rectal Exam or a Comprehensive Stool Analysis to detect masses and to determine if there is bleeding potentially due to colon cancer.
Naturopathic physicians take a holistic approach in taking a patient’s medical history and determine if there may be any predisposing factors to the development of colon cancer like physical inactivity, poor diet, family history, smoking, or alcohol use. They can also run simple blood tests or specialized lab tests like an IgG Food Intolerance Panel or genetic tumor markers to help them determine what a patient’s risk for developing colon cancer are and can then tailor individualized treatment programs like the Weight Loss Program, Smoking Cessation Program, and Diabetes Treatment Program to minimize the impact of these risk factors on a patients health.
In combination with more conventional therapies, naturopathic physicians work to provide adjunctive treatment options for those who have been diagnosed with colon cancer. Therapy includes providing specific nutritional support to reduce the risk of metastasis and to help reduce the side effects and speed recovery from surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. IV therapy and alternative cytotoxic treatments can also help to reduce the risk of metastasis and eradicate cancer through immune stimulation. Continued support and follow-up is provided utilizing both labs and radiology to monitor the progress of treatment. Because cancer can be both physically and mentally demanding, we offer counseling, acupuncture, and nutritional therapies to help support and maintain the overall well-being of patients as they progress through treatment.