April 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

March Is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

While most Jews are aware of the genetically inherited diseases that affect our community, such as Tay-Sachs, few are aware of the increased risk posed by colon cancer to Ashkenazi Jews. While the average American has a 6% risk of developing colon cancer, this statistic is just a starting point for Jews.

A genetic mutation on the “colon cancer” gene is found in over 6% of all Ashkenazi Jews in America. This mutation is present in 28% of those Jews with a family history of colorectal cancer. Given the increased incidence of inflammatory bowel disease in the Jewish population (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), which also predisposes to a higher colon cancer rate, it can be confidently asserted that the average Ashkenazi Jew in America is at a higher than average risk for colorectal cancer.

This would qualify Jewish patients for a more appropriate screening strategy for colorectal cancer, one reserved for individuals at a “higher-than-normal” risk. This would include a screening colonoscopy at least by age 45. If any first-degree relatives (parents, children, siblings) have had colon cancer or colon polyps, then the first colonoscopy should be done 10 years earlier than when that relative was diagnosed. Jews should view this as nothing more than routine screening, like prostate exams, PAP smears and mammograms.

If you are due for a colonoscopy, now is the time. If someone you love is due it is time to start reminding them!

Scott David Lippe, M.D.
Board Certified Gastroenterologist, Paramus
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