News Release

February 27, 2008

Contact: Christopher DeFrancesco, 860-679-3914

How to Beat One of the Deadliest Cancers

March Is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Long before early detection and treatment, we can take steps to reduce colon cancer with lifestyle choices, according to physicians in the University of Connecticut Health Center’s Colon Cancer Prevention Program.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that obesity and smoking are significant risk factors,” says Joseph Anderson, M.D., a UConn Health Center gastroenterologist and expert in colon cancer screening and prevention. Last fall at the American College of Gastroenterology’s annual scientific meeting, Anderson presented data from his clinical research that showed obesity and smoking outweigh family history as risk factors for colon cancer in women.

According to the American Cancer Society, colon or colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. The death rate has been falling since the mid-90s, as more Americans have been getting regular screenings and as treatments have been improving. When colon cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the five-year survival rate is greater than 90 percent. Many of these patients live much longer than five years after the diagnosis; five-year survival rate is a standard benchmark for prognosis.

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of regular screenings,” Anderson says. “With early detection, colon cancer is highly curable. Screenings also reveal polyps, which we can remove before they become cancerous, thereby helping prevent colon cancer in the first place. And at UConn, we’re using the latest techniques available to detect as many of these precancerous lesions as possible.”

UConn’s Colon Cancer Prevention Program also offers a detailed assessment of a patient’s family and personal medical histories to determine his or her individual risk factors and come up with a personalized cancer prevention plan.

“Catching it early is the key,” says Bruce Brenner, M.D., a surgical oncologist with specialized training in the treatment of colon cancer. “While a screening may give you news you don’t want to hear, there’s so much more we can do for you if your cancer is found in an early stage. But once it spreads, the prognosis is much less favorable.”

Congress Designated March National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in 2000.

On March 25, Brenner and Anderson are speaking at a free program titled “Women and Colon Cancer” at the Henry Low Learning Center in the Health Center’s main building, from 6 to 7:15 p.m. The talk is presented by Celebrate Women, the free women’s health membership program of the UConn Health Center. Registration is required; call 866-433-6253 or 860-679-8899. More information and registration is also available at

To schedule an appointment with the Colon Cancer Prevention Program, call 860-679-7692 or 800-535-6232. More information about the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center is available at

UConn Health includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Home to Bioscience Connecticut, UConn Health pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about UConn Health is available at

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