Dr. Brody StringerPhoto of Brody Stringer, DO

Dr. Brody Stringer is currently a second-year Family Medicine resident at the Washington Health System. He was born and raised in Cookville, TN where he attended Tennessee Technological University majoring in Biology Health Sciences. Afterwards, he enrolled in the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harrogate, TN before coming here to begin his Residency. When he is not studying/working, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, as well as hunting, fishing, exercising, and playing music.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer occurs in the color on rectum (passageway from the colon to the anus). Colon cancer (for short) is a relatively common and deadly disease. Approximately 52,980 Americans are expected to die from cancer of the large bowel every year. In the U.S. it remains the 3rd leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women and 2nd in men. Colorectal cancer screening is a very important way modern medicine is helping save lives. Many times colon cancer starts as small abnormal growths in the colon called polyps. With routine screening, these polyps can be found and removed before turning in the cancer.

Screening can find cancer at an early stage when treatment has the best outcomes. Your risk of colon cancer increases with age (90% of cases happen in individuals over 50). In addition to age, other risk factors include inflammatory bowel disease, a family history of colon cancer or polyps, having certain genetic syndromes, as well as lifestyle factors including: lack of regular exercise, a diet low in fruits, vegetables, and fiber and high in fat or processed meats. Also being overweight or obese, alcohol consumption, and tobacco use increase your risk. Some of these factors are very common!

So I’m sure you’re wondering what can be done to reduce your risk. Firstly, the most important thing you can do is talk to your Primary Care Provider (PCP) about screening and get screened. The United States Preventative Task Force recommends starting at age 50. Sometimes it may be important to start earlier depending on risk factors. Screening helps find precancerous polyps so they can be easily removed thereby preventing colon cancer. Screening can also detect colon cancer early when treatment will work the best. In addition you may be able to reduce your risk be eating a healthy diet low in animal fat and high in fruits/vegetables/fiber/whole grains. You can also take care to limit alcohol consumption, avoid any tobacco use, and increase your physical activity.

Unfortunately, you may have precancerous polyps and not even know it, as they do not always cause symptoms, especially at first. This is why screening, even if you feel fine, is so important. Symptoms to be aware of, frequently seen in later stages of colon cancer, include: blood loss in your stool, stomach ache/pain/cramping that does not go away, or weight loss for no apparent reason. If you are having any of these symptoms you should see your doctor sooner rather than later to determine the cause and best course of action. Regardless of symptoms/risk factors all individuals should be screened for colon cancer. Talk with your doctor about screening for colorectal cancer to determine when to start, what test is right for you, and how often to get tested. Options include stool testing, procedures (colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy), and imaging, your doctor can help you decide which test is best for you. Screening can easily be done here at WHS.