Colorectal cancer

Cancer is the leading cause of death for the Hispanic population, and colorectal cancer is the second-most-common type of cancer in the Hispanic population.

Annual screenings that can detect polyps or early cancers in the colon can be lifesaving. According to published studies, an estimated 16,500 Hispanic men and women were diagnosed with cancer of the colon or rectum, and about 4,700 Hispanic individuals died from the disease in 2021.

“The risk of developing colon polyps and cancer increases as one ages,” said Dr. Carlos A. Esparza, a colorectal surgeon on medical staff at Abrazo West Campus.

“The majority of colon cancer is found in patients without any symptoms or a family history of colon cancer. We all need a colonoscopy starting at 45 years old unless you have a first-degree relative with colon cancer or polyps, where one should consider being tested earlier than age 45.”

Risk factors for colorectal cancer in Hispanics

• Obesity (especially abdominal).

• High consumption of red or processed meat.

• Physical inactivity (colon only).

• Cigarette smoking.

• Excess alcohol consumption.

• Low calcium intake and very low intake of fruits and vegetables.

• Personal medical history and hereditary factors that increase risk include Type 2 diabetes and chronic inflammatory bowel disease of significant duration.

 Nearly all colorectal cancers start with a polyp, which is a small area of unchecked growths on the inner lining of the colon. Polyps and colon cancers rarely create symptoms such as pain or bleeding.

Early detection and treatment, even before symptoms appear, results in improved survival rates, according to doctors at Abrazo West Campus.

“The colon is the lowest part of the intestine, also called the large intestine,” said Dr. Sushil Pandey, a colorectal surgeon on the medical staff at Abrazo West.

“It’s inside the lining where growths called polyps can appear, and some polyps can grow into colon cancer. Through colonoscopy, doctors can inspect the inside lining of the colon and remove polyps, which helps prevent cancers from forming.”

It’s important to find cancers early or find them as polyps and have them removed, he added. The incidence of colon cancer is increasing among young people, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that screenings begin at age 45.

If you think you are at increased risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your doctor about when to begin screening, which test is right for you and how often to get tested.

For more information on colon cancer and online health risk assessments or to find a doctor, visit